Friday, April 22, 2011


General Tso's Chicken

The May issue of Food and Wine contained a recipe for DSO's favorite Chinese food, so what could I do? While very little frying goes on in The Food of Love kitchen, I put aside my prejudices for this one meal and was quite pleased with the results. I cut back on the sugar and the oil, in part for health reasons and also because I don't like sweet, greasy food and used chicken breasts instead of thighs since I had them on hand. As with most Chinese cooking, the key is in the preparation. Having everything chopped, diced, and measured out means dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes--it would be sooner, but that's how long the rice needs to cook. Here is the version I prepared:

1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
1/4 cup plus 1 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 3 tbs cornstarch
3 - 4 tbs water
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 tbs Thai chili garlic sauce or Chinese chili garlic sauce (this was nicely spicy; adjust to taste)
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs vegetable oil plus more for frying (about 3 tbs)
2 tbs very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
steamed broccoli and white rice as accompaniments

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil, the egg white, 1 tbs of the soy sauce, and 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs of the cornstarch; add just enough water to make a thick paste; add the chicken, stirring to coat and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chili garlic sauce, sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1 tbs cornstarch.

In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tbs of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture and add it to the pan, cooking until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, turning once or twice until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain each batch on paper towels, then add to the sauce along with the scallions. Cook until coated and serve immediately with rice and steamed broccoli.

It's only recently that I've begun to enjoy spicy foods and that's a good thing because this was spicy--not overly so, but it had a nice kick. I confess that I enjoyed the dish immensely. The coating was beautifully browned and retained a bit of crunch even after it was added to the thick, sweetly tangy sauce. The ginger and garlic, along with the scallions, added several layers of flavor. There were plenty of leftovers for lunch, but only because we are careful to eat moderate portions. I will probably never order this dish out--the heavy batter and orange sauce are real turn offs--but I will make this again.


  1. This look delicious Arlene and so much better that you could make it at home where you can control the ingredients and the portions. ;-)

  2. I saw this in Food & Wine this month, too, and wondered how it would be. I usually steer clear of ethnic reproductions in food magazines because they almost always disappoint me, but now that I've seen your rendition, I may have to give this one a try!

  3. Bookmarked! We love Asian haven't tried this one yet... when I make this soon will let you know how we liked it... this is so exciting to see a recipe for it... have only done the orange and sesame but we love the spicy one... have to find this garlic... thanks Happy Easter to you!

  4. mmmm, what a fantastic dish, i love general tso's chicken, yum!

  5. All the men in my life love General Tso's chicken too. This looks delicious and I really love that it is quick. I'm all about quick food lately :)

    I hope and your family have a wonderful Easter!

  6. This looks terrific AND naturally gluten-free if you make sure to get wheat-free soy sauce.

  7. One of my favs. Will certainly have to try this as it looks sooooo good!!!


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