When we were on honeymoon in the States (all the way back in the year 2000), every time we walked past a Chinese restaurant in a shopping mall, there was somebody standing outside with a plate full of free samples to try on cocktail sticks and nine times out of ten, it was General Tso’s Chicken on offer. It was a dish that I'd never heard of before so I investigated on our return and found out that it's a Chinese-American invention. It was very tasty so, when I saw a mention of it online the other day, I thought I'd try to recreate it. There are numerous versions online so I combined several to use ingredients that I already had in the cupboards.
General Tso’s Chicken
4 chicken breasts
spring onions to garnish (optional)
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry or ginger wine
¾ cup cornflour
¼ cup plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup chicken stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry or ginger wine
3 tbsp white granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1tsp garlic puree)
2 tsp minced ginger or 1tsp ground ginger
1tsp chilli paste
Whisk together the egg whites, the soy sauce and the ginger wine/rice wine.
Dice the chicken and add to the marinade. Stir to evenly coat the chicken and leave to rest for half an hour in the fridge.
Whisk together all of the sauce ingredents (minus the ginger and garlic if using fresh) in a separate bowl, making sure the sugar and cornflour completely dissolve.
Put the coating ingredients in a bowl or dish and stir to combine. Set up a workstation with the marinated chicken, the flour and a dish to transfer the prepared chicken to.
Shake the excess marinade off the chicken pieces then roll in the flour to thoroughly coat them.
Put 2-3cm vegetable oil in a large wok and heat until it bubbles when you drop in a piece of chicken. Fry the chicken in batches until it is a dark golden colour and nice and crispy.
Transfer to a dish lined with kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. At this point, the kids arrived, squealed "ooh Mum's made chicken nuggets" and started grabbing handfuls from the bowl !
Empty the oil and wipe the wok clean with kitchen paper. If using fresh garlic/ginger, gently fry in 1tbsp oil. (If using dried spice and/or puree, it can go straight in the bowl with the other sauce ingredients.) Pour the sauce into the wok and bring to a gentle boil then reduce the heat and simmer for a minute for it to thicken.
Transfer the chicken to the hot sauce and stir until evenly coated in thick sticky sauce but still crispy. Or just pour the sauce over the chicken on the plate if you want to make sure it stays crispy. Add a sprinkle of chopped spring onions for a splash of colour. This is traditionally served with steamed rice and broccoli.
*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***
If you want to try some more American recipes, how about Hoppin' John & Collards (South Carolina), Parmesan Chicken Breast, Minnesotan Hotdish or Snickerdoodles ?
Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because it used up some out-of-date cornflour and lots of odds and ends of bottles of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger wine and sesame oil that are cluttering up the cupboard sheves.