General Tso's Chicken

(Zuo Zong Tang Ji)

Learn About the Origins of General Tso's Chicken

This version of the dish is based on one I learned in the kitchen of the Peng Yuan restaurant in Taipei. It was invented by veteran chef Peng Chang-kuei, who still runs the restaurant with his son, Peng T'ieh-cheng. The dish is hot and sour, and lacks the sweetness of the Americanised version, which follows. You can use chicken breast instead of thigh meat if you prefer.

4 boned chicken thighs with skin (about 12 oz. total)

6-10 dried red chiles

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tsp. finely chopped garlic

2 tsp. sesame oil

peanut oil for deep-frying

For the marinade:

2 tsp. light soy sauce

1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp. potato flour

2 tsp. peanut oil

For the sauce:

1 tbsp. double concentrate tomato paste mixed with 1 tbsp water

1/2 tsp. potato flour

1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp. light soy sauce

1 tbsp. clear rice vinegar

3 tbsp. everyday stock or water

thinly sliced scallion greens to garnish

1. Unfold the chicken thighs and lay them, skin side down, on a chopping board. (If some parts are very thick, lay your knife flat and slice them in half, parallel to the board). Use a sharp knife to make a few shallow criss-cross cuts into the meat — this will help the flavors to penetrate. Then cut each thigh into bite-size slices, an uneven 1/4 in or so in thickness. Place the chicken slices in a bowl.

2. To make the marinade, add the soy sauces and egg yolk to the chicken and mix well, then stir in the potato flour and lastly the oil; set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Use a pair of scissors to snip the dried chiles into 3/4-inch pieces, discarding seeds as far as possible.

4. Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 350-400 degrees. Add the chicken and deep-fry until it is crisp and golden. (If you are deep-frying in a wok with a relatively small volume of oil, fry the chicken in batches.) Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the oil into a heatproof container, and clean the wok if necessary.

5. Return the wok to a high flame with 2-3 tablespoons of peanut oil. Add the dried chiles and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant and just changing color (do not burn them). Toss in the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds longer, until fragrant. Then add the sauce and stir as it thickens.

6. Return the chicken to the wok and stir vigorously to coat the pieces in sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and then serve, sprinkled with scallion greens.

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