General Tso's Chicken by Adventuress Heart

General Tso's Chicken is my all-time favorite Chinese dish. I love its sweet and spicy combination as well as the tender chicken coated in crispy exterior. Serve it over rice, of course traditionally, but it also adds an extra texture and nutty flavor (especially if using brown rice) while spreading the sauce out a bit. Broccoli is the perfect vegetable for a side because the florets can be used as little mops to soak up the last bit of the precious sauce remaining on the plate. Ahh...


Tonight's recipe comes from Bella at Adventuress Heart "What you give away you keep" a blog my wife discovered on Tastespotting only last week. I've always wanted to make my own General Tso's Chicken, so I had my wife send me the link, and here we are! Be sure to check out Bella's blog - she has some interesting recipes as well as beautiful photography.

The recipe starts with cutting chicken into strips and submerging them into this slurry of egg whites, corn starch, soy sauce, and sesame oil. This sets for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, there's other prep to do...

Here is the sauce to prep using chicken broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, Chinese chili sauce, raw sugar, and I took Bella's advice and added a sploosh of both rice vinegar and lime juice.

I minced the garlic and grated the ginger used in the sauce, but this was a huge mistake. When adding this to the hot oil, it burned and stuck to the bottom of the pan so fast. I think in the end this is what ended making my chicken taste very very burnt and bitter, as opposed to that phenomenal sweet/spicy Tso flavor that we all know and love.

Here's my "glop" of garlic and ginger hitting the pan. It burned faster than I could add the rest of the sauce to the pan, and it just wasn't supposed to happen this way. For a few seconds though, the fragrance of the garlic and ginger was heavenly.

As soon as I noticed my heat was too high I added the sauce as fast as I could, but it was too late. Even the first few tablespoons of sauce seem to scald at the bottom of the pan as soon as it came in contact.

I let the sauce simmer and turned my attention to the chicken. I heated some peanut oil in a pan and had my landing rack ready toward the back.

Remove the chicken from heat when golden brown. I think I may have waited a touch too long. My chicken was a little dark but not terribly overcooked. I wanted to make sure it was fully cooked through.

Chicken didn't turn out too bad - I did burn a few pieces a little. Jen has been playing with the ISO on the camera - what an awesome snap!

Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat in the sauce, and that's it!

I did run into a few problems, and I think it was my fault in execution of the recipe rather than flaws with the recipe itself. The first thing was the garlic and ginger. I grated it instead of making a small chop and as a result I got a bad burnt flavor instead of a sweetness on the chicken.

Another thing is my chicken lost its crispiness after a few minutes. I don't think it was because of the sauce because a couple of pieces of chicken I didn't put in the sauce also lost their crispiness. Perhaps it was my frying technique...overcooking in oil that's not hot enough? Maybe I'll have better control using a wok next time..

I'm definitely going to try this recipe again - I found this video that sort of gives me a better idea of how things perhaps should have gone How to Make General Tso's Chicken. I think I like Bella's chicken batter recipe better - the chicken without the sauce was very flavorful, but I like the stir-frying saucing technique the guy in the video used, very educational.

I look forward to revisiting this dish and perhaps doing it right next time. I can see myself making this every week. Thanks again to Bella for sharing her recipe on her blog Adventuress Heart "What you give away you keep"

13 comments:

  1. Hi there!

    I'm sorry about the chicken. Looking back at the directions it seems they are incorrect, I had copied it from the original recipe (only altering the chicken cuts and doubling the ingredient amounds) Also when making it I ran into a similar problem and removed the oil off the heat, let it cool down and then added the garlic and ginger and cooked if off the heat. I had a general idea of the steps from reading the recipe earlier so I had no idea it actually mentioned leaving it on a high heat in the instructions. If you refer back to my recipe you'll notice I put in a warning, hopefully you'll give the recipe another chance, it's really a great recipe. Also I ran into the same issue with worrying about the breast meat cooking through so maybe we can both try it with thigh meat next time :) Good luck and thanks for letting me know about things.

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  2. Despite some of the problems you had, this looks REALLY good! Restaurant quality good!

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  3. Looks wonderful, really it does look great. :-)

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  4. Wow this looks amazing and I love the step-by-step pictures! Thank you for breaking this one down for us!

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  5. It looks perfect! I would love a piece of this one. Great job.

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  6. I love general tso's chicken! Now I have the recipe to make it yay!! Thanks so much for sharing, I can't wait to give it a try, it looks sooo good! =]

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  7. It looks great, even with all the trouble you had! I love General Tso's Chicken so much and will have to give this a whirl sometime soon! Your pictures are phenominal by the way!

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  8. I love making those great takeout dishes at home so you can control the quality of ingredients and amount of salt and whatnot. This looks great! I just got a new wok, I think this may be the first thing I fry up in it

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  9. look delicious,these chicken look perfectly cooked,YuM ,is one of my favorite chinese foods :)
    Ridwan

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  10. Thanks all for your wonderful comments, and thanks to Bella for her addendum to this recipe.

    For those who might try making this, be sure to check out the recipe changes before starting.

    http://adventuressheart.blogspot.com/2011/09/general-tsos-chicken.html

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  11. This looks absolutely mouthwatering. I loved your honest remarks about the dish. Please let me know how you could overcome this loss-of-crispiness problem.

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  12. Thanks Purabi :)

    I've been pondering the crispiness problem, actually. I've been reading others' recipe where they say the chicken lost crispiness because they leave it in the sauce too long, but mine lost its crispiness before I put it in the sauce.

    I wonder if adding flour (rice flour) to the recipe, or perhaps more cornstarch and less egg would work.

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  13. Thanks to your new email sig photo I just had to check this out. :) I saved the recipe so I can make this, although it does not fit in with my eating plan I need to keep an open mind!

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