Friday, 11 May 2012

General Tso's Chicken

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I've only very recently begun to enjoy Chinese food. Actually, I should rephrase that: I've only recently begun to eat Chinese food. Sometimes I can be a bit of a picky eater, and I say that I don't like something because it's just different than what I'm used to (even if I've never tried it!). I'm trying (keyword: trying) to embrace new types of food. And I'm glad that I'm doing so, because it turns out I love Chinese food. My favourite dish is General Tso's chicken. Crispy, fried pieces of chicken in a tangy and sweet sauce... you really can't go wrong in my book.

I loved this recipe. It was more "traditional" than simply a sweet and sour sauce. My two little sisters are really picky and didn't like this sauce-- I think they were expecting a sweet and sour sauce (which I'll make for them next time-- I think I'll use this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken from Addicted to Recipes). I, on the other hand, loved it. The inclusion of the hoisin sauce gave the chicken a unique flavour: it was tangy and sweet, but had a unique flavour that I can't really describe from the hoisin sauce.

I didn't deep fry my chicken pieces-- I didn't have enough oil. Instead, I used a large frying pan and poured the oil in til there was about a 1/2 inch of oil. I just flipped the pieces of chicken once and got them nice and crispy on each side, and they were perfectly cooked. The pieces of chicken still fried beautifully and were nice and crispy, but juicy on the inside.

This is definitely a recipe I'll make again!

General Tso's Chicken
Yield: 4-5 servings

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (I omitted these)

Coating & frying:
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups vegetable oil (I didn't use this much oil, read above)
  • 1-2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
  1. Prep the chicken breasts by cutting them into 1 inch pieces.
  2. To make the marinade & sauce, whisk the hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and water in a bowl. Of this mixture, place 6 tablespoons into a zip lock storage bag and add the chicken; seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade in the bowl.
  3. While the chicken is chilling in the marinade, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of the hoisin marinade to the skillet and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture is dark brown and thickened. Remove from heat, cover and keep the sauce warm.
  4. To prepare the chicken coating and frying, whisk the egg whites in a shallow dish until foamy; set aside. Combine the cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining hoisin marinade in a second shallow dish; mix until it resembles coarse meal. 
  5. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and from the marinade. Pat the marinated chicken dry with paper towels. Toss half the chicken into the foamy egg whites until well coated, then dredge the chicken in the cornstarch mmixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees. Fry half the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Return the oil to 350 degrees before frying again. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  7. Warm the sauce over medium heat until simmering. Place the sauce in a large bowl and add the fried chicken pieces. Toss to coat and serve. 
Recipe adapted from What's Cookin', Chicago?
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