When I saw this post on Savoring Time in the Kitchen, I knew I just had to make it. It looked too good in that photo not to try. I ended up not getting any pictures of the food while I was making this, but at least that image is a good one to drool over.
The big things I learned from this recipe: deep-frying on the stove top is a bit more difficult than I realized because of temperature fluctuations in the oil; using corn starch to bread chicken is much easier/better than using flour (though you have to make sure you use the chicken quickly after stirring the corn starch in – I briefly forgot the adhesive powder of corn starch, and spent a bit too much time futzing around with stuff after powdering the chicken – I had to pick it apart manually because the egg/starch became glue); and Susan is right – you will want to make a double batch of the sauce because it’s amazing.
General Tsao’s Chicken
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (you may substitute chicken breast)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 pinch white pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil)
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 clove garlic, minced
6 dried whole red chilies (I chopped my chiles before I realized they were supposed to be whole, and they were wonderfully warm)
1 strip orange zest
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Heat 4 cups vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Using olive oil for the deep frying would be a slightly healthier option.
Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken cubes; sprinkle with salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and white pepper; mix well. Mix in 1 cup of cornstarch a little bit at a time until the chicken cubes are well coated.
In batches, carefully drop the chicken cubes into the hot oil one by one, cooking until they turns golden brown and begin to float, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to cool as you fry the next batch. Once all of the chicken has been fried, refry the chicken, starting with the batch that was cooked first. Cook until the chicken turns deep golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in the green onion, garlic, whole chiles, and orange zest. Cook and stir a minute or two until the garlic has turned golden and the chiles brighten. Add 1/2 cup sugar, the ginger, chicken broth, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peanut oil; bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into the water, and stir into the boiling sauce. Return to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens and is no longer cloudy from the cornstarch, about 1 minute. Stir the cooked chicken into the boiling sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for a few minutes until the chicken absorbs some of the sauce.
This is amazing just with rice, or with some steamed bok choi or broccoli. So very filling and good!