General Tso’s Chicken

I think this technically has a Chinese name (左宗棠鸡, according to Wikipedia), but it’s really a classic of Chinese-American cooking. I tried it out at the request of a friend. I didn’t want to waste too much oil when deep frying, so I poured as little as I could. It ended up not being enough to totally submerge the chicken, so I just had to turn it while cooking.

I’m happy with how the sauce turned out (dark and light soy sauce diluted with water, combined with a good amount of brown sugar and thickened with tapioca starch), but I must admit that the chicken was not as crispy as I’d have liked it. I see three potential culprits:

At any rate, it looked reasonably like your typical Chinese takeout. Here are some pictures of the cooking process:

General Tso’s chicken after deep frying and in the wok. (full resolution: left, right)

And here are some food blogger-style pictures of the final dish:

Final dish of General Tso’s chicken, as well as an “artsy” closeup. (full resolution: left, right)

The general process for producing this is to first velvet the chicken with Shaoxing wine, sesame seed oil, salt, white pepper, cornstarch, and flour; mix it so that all the chicken pieces are coated. Then you deep fry them twice (apparently this adds crispiness). Heat dried chili peppers and garlic in a wok and make the stir fry sauce as usual. Add the chicken and blanched broccoli and toss around until coated with the sauce. I don’t have any amounts because I usually don’t use any measurements unless baking—just follow your gut!

You know, if this whole theoretical computer science thing doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll just start Zheng’s Golden Dragon Hunan Garden #1 Lucky Palace Chinese Takeout.