This is one of the recipes that has earned me the title “Red-Headed Chinese Chef” here at home. The original recipe came from a forwarded e-mail, and I don’t know the exact source. It’s one of the more involved Chinese recipes I make and takes at least an hour to prepare (count on longer for the first time making it), but it’s well worth the effort. We mainly cook this for special occasions — it is the dish my mom requested for Mother’s Day.
The most important step for this dish is frying the chicken. You want to make sure the breading is sticky, almost to the point where you can’t stir the chicken/breading mixture. That will make for a nice crispy coating that won’t get soggy once you add the sauce.
General Tso’s Chicken
3 lbs. chicken meat (this recipe tastes best with thigh meat, but chicken breast works as well)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
1 cup tapioca starch (corn starch will work as well)
Cut chicken into medium-size chunks. In medium bowl, mix chicken, ¼ cup soy sauce and pepper. Stir in egg. Add 1 cup tapioca starch and mix until chicken pieces are coated evenly. Chicken should be sticky with coating. If breading seems too thin, add more starch.
Add a little vegetable oil to help separate chicken pieces. Divide chicken into small quantities and deep−fry until crispy.
½ cup tapioca starch
¼ cup water
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ tsp. minced ginger root
¾ cup sugar
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup rice wine
1½ cup hot chicken broth
For sauce, mix cup tapioca starch with water. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, ½ cup soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and chicken broth. Stir until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until needed.
Place a small amount of oil in wok and heat until wok is hot. Add 4-10 hot peppers and stir−fry briefly. (The number of peppers depends on how hot you want the dish and the type of peppers you are using. Lately, I’ve been using frozen cyan peppers, and I need 4-6.)
Add desired vegetables and stir-fry. (I use broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Some General Tso’s Chicken is served without vegetables, others with only broccoli and water chestnuts. It’s an individual choice.) Stir sauce and add to wok. Place chicken in sauce and cook until sauce thickens. Serve with hot rice.