Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
hzrt8w

Pictorial: General Tso's Chicken

Recommended Posts

Pictorial Recipe

General Tso's Chicken (左宗棠雞)

I am going to publish my version of this controversial recipe: General Tso's Chicken. It is a very popular dish in Chinese restaurants in North America. However, most of the versions made, in my opinion, are overly sweet and the chicken pieces are unjustly deep-fried in thick batter first. This dish is controversial because there seems to be no general agreement of how it should be made. Therefore, many people have different versions or interpretations of this dish.

I adapted my own version from the recipe published by Maria Lee:

http://www.marialee.com/chinese/poultry4.htm

(Recipe written in Chinese)

This dish is quite easy to make at home. You may modify this recipe to adjust for your own taste. For example, you may want to add more sugar to sweeten it up. In the spirit of real Chinese cooking, however, I would not recommend deep-frying the chicken meat in batter.

Picture of the finished dish:

gallery_19795_3496_14690.jpg

Serving Suggestion: 2-3

Preparations:

gallery_19795_3496_28254.jpg

Main ingredients (upper right, clockwise):

- 3 pieces of boneless chicken breast, about 1.5 to 2 lb

- Garlic, use about 4-5 cloves

- Ginger, use about 1 inch in length

- About 7-8 stalks of green onions

- Chinese red vinegar (very important for this dish)

gallery_19795_3496_7494.jpg

Trim the fat off the chicken breasts. Cut into 1-inch dices.

gallery_19795_3496_15330.jpg

To marinate the chicken: Use a mixing bowl, add chicken dices. Add:

- 1-2 tsp of sesame oil

- 1 tsp of dark soy sauce

- 1-2 tsp of light soy sauce

- 1 tsp of oyster sauce

- 1 tsp of ground white pepper

- 1-2 tsp of ShaoHsing cooking wine

- 1-2 tsp of corn starch

- a pinch of salt (e.g. 1/4 tsp)

gallery_19795_3496_20243.jpg

Mix well. Set aside for about 30 minutes before cooking.

gallery_19795_3496_26407.jpg

Peel and mince 4-5 cloves of garlic. Grate or finely chop 1-inch of ginger. Trim end and finely chop 7-8 stalks of green onions.

Cooking Instructions:

gallery_19795_3496_15507.jpg

Use a pan/wok, set stove at high. Add 3-4 tblsp of cooking oil. Wait until oil is hot. Velvet the marinated chicken meat first.

gallery_19795_3496_24946.jpg

Stir-well. It takes 2-3 minutes (or longer). Cook until the chicken meat is slightly undercooked - when the pink color just starts to disappear. Remove from pan/wok.

gallery_19795_3496_17162.jpg

Start with a clean pan/wok, set stove at high. Add 2-3 tblsp of cooking oil Wait until oil starts fuming. Add about 20 dried chilies.

gallery_19795_3496_15378.jpg

Add the minced garlic, grated/chopped ginger and about 3/4 portion of the chopped green onion. Add 1/2 tsp of salt (or to taste). Quickly dash in 2 tsp of ShaoHsing cooking wine and 2-3 tsp (or even 4-5 tsp if you want it on the sour side) of Chinese red vinegar. Stir well.

gallery_19795_3496_15184.jpg

Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chicken broth. Wait until it starts boiling. Add corn starch slurry (suggest: 1-2 tsp of corn starch in 2-3 tsp of water) to thicken the sauce to the right consistency.

gallery_19795_3496_34768.jpg

Return the chicken, and add the remaining portion of the chopped green onions. Dash in 1 tsp of dark soy sauce and a pinch of sugar (e.g. 1 tsp). Mix well. Cook for another minute or two. Ready.

Transfer to the serving plate.

gallery_19795_3496_14690.jpg

Picture of the finished dish.

(Note: The quantity of food produced in this recipe is about twice the portion shown in this picture.)


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How come you disapprove of the deep frying part of this recipe? I'm no fan of deep frying, but I really like the crispy texture the chicken gets from it.

There is obviously a difference between the food served in homes and that served in restaurants of any given culture -- Indian, Chinese, French and well, any other culture that developed restaurants -- but as far as I understand it, General Tso's Chicken seems to have been a creation of the American Chinese restaurant tradition. Like Chicken Kiev, it might not actually have been invented here, but it could have gotten its name, and generally become a traditional dish in the US.

I hope this doesn't sound too negative, dude. The tutorial is -- as jhirshon said, wonderful.

Oh yeah, one more thing -- why chicken breasts, as opposed to dark meat? I know this sounds like a bit of a culinary urban legend, but one story I heard about the reason for the popularity of this dish, is that it used the cheaper parts of the chicken (while still tasting great), which prompted restauranteurs to promote the dish as a special, premium dish. This would make a lot of sense, financially speaking... But even if this is incorrect, it would still make sense to use chicken thighs for this dish, since they are a lot cheaper, and far more flavorful than chicken breasts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Marvelous as always, Ah Leung! I like the fact that you don't add much sugar. My biggest beef with most restaurant examples is that they are way too sweet.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think General Tso's chicken, from various googled images, is the same as what we served as sesame chicken, except for the excessive # of dried chili peppers.

I do deep fry the chicken pieces, usually thick strips of dark and white meat. I season the chicken with salt, MSG, and sesame oil, then work in an egg, flour and baking powder. This is worked in thoughly, then the chicken is tossed into fine cracker crumbs. The chicken is deepfried, and they end up with a nice crunch without thick batter.

The sauce is just vinegar, water, a little sugar, sesame oil, 5-spice powder, and lots of crushed pepper (amount depends on the consumer). This is thickened with a cornstarch slurry, and the chicken pieces are tossed in quickly to coat. I prefer to NOT completely soak the chicken pieces with sauce. I do provide a side of the sauce for those who like more sauce. It's crunchy, spicy, more tang than sweet, sesame flavoured, and topped with sesame seeds.

Might to have to make some soon. :hmmm:

Ah Leung only uses breast meat 'cos he obeys his wife! :laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charmaine Solomon has a Szechuan chicken with red chili dish that is a relative of General Tso's chicken and that I make a lot here. She deep fries the chicken with a light corn flour, five spice, S&P dredge. It's not a batter at all; the chicken just picks up a nice crunch.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just some background on the good general, and a couple of claims for it's origin in this country.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A59302-2002Apr16

Delfs' "The Good Food of Szechuan" has this dish with the characters 左宗棠雞, but because the general was unpopular in the PRC, it was called La Jiao Zi Ji.-辣 椒子雞. His recipe also uses chicken breast and does not deep fry it in a batter. also, no sugar.

I like the idea of velveting the chicken, but I would use dark meat. I just like it better.

What is the major difference between La Zi Ji and Gong Bao Ji? I know the latter usually is served with peanuts, but I read somewhere that this wasn't original. Is it because the Gong bao is diced and uses more peppers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

can someone tell me more about this red vinegar..

I have used the black vinegar before but have never heard of red, can you tell me it's Chinese name with characters if possible.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
can someone tell me more about this red vinegar..

I have used the black vinegar before but have never heard of red, can you tell me it's Chinese name with characters if possible.

Here is one brand - Koon Chun, but there are other brands. I think my favorite is Pearl River. But in this picture, you can see the characters.

http://chinesefood.about.com/gi/dynamic/of...%2Dgourmet.com/

In this one, go halfway down the page for a picture and a description.

http://www.foodsubs.com/Vinegars.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are debates on the birthplace of this dish. Some argued that it is from NYC and others said West Coast. And there are claims from Toronto.


Leave the gun, take the canoli

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah Leung,

Thank You for sharing this recipe. I had been looking for it for long. I liked your idea of shallow frying it too.

Ash

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fushia Dunlop just came out with a book on Hunan cuisne, the Revloutionary cookbook or something like that. She has 2 versions of general Tso's Chicken. One that is "authentic" and one that is "american/westernized". I had to order mine from the UK, since it's not released to the US until Feb '07

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fushia Dunlop just came out with a book on Hunan cuisne, the Revloutionary cookbook or something like that.  She has 2 versions of general Tso's Chicken.  One that is "authentic" and one that is "american/westernized".  I had to order mine from the UK, since it's not released to the US until Feb '07

So there is a real General Tso Chicken after all huh....


Leave the gun, take the canoli

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think General Tso's chicken, from various googled images, is the same as what we served as sesame chicken, except for the excessive # of dried chili peppers.

I do deep fry the chicken pieces, usually thick strips of dark and white meat. I season the chicken with salt, MSG, and sesame oil, then work in an egg, flour and baking powder. This is worked in thoughly, then the chicken is tossed into fine cracker crumbs. The chicken is deepfried, and they end up with a nice crunch without thick batter.

The sauce is just vinegar, water, a little sugar, sesame oil, 5-spice powder, and lots of crushed pepper (amount depends on the consumer). This is thickened with a cornstarch slurry, and the chicken pieces are tossed in quickly to coat. I prefer to NOT completely soak the chicken pieces with sauce. I do provide a side of the sauce for those who like more sauce. It's crunchy, spicy, more tang than sweet, sesame flavoured, and topped with sesame seeds.

Might to have to make some soon. :hmmm:

Ah Leung only uses breast meat 'cos he obeys his wife! :laugh:

If I remember correctly, his wife doesnt like dark meat( and this is why I love these demo's so much, I hate dark meat too).


Edited by CaliPoutine (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fushia Dunlop just came out with a book on Hunan cuisne, the Revloutionary cookbook or something like that.  She has 2 versions of general Tso's Chicken.  One that is "authentic" and one that is "american/westernized".  I had to order mine from the UK, since it's not released to the US until Feb '07

How are the two recipes different, both from each other, and from Ah Leung's version?


Life is short. Eat the roasted cauliflower first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This looks good and I can't wait to try it.

I have to admit however, I don't know what it means to "velvet the chicken" - can someone please explain?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This looks good and I can't wait to try it.

I have to admit however, I don't know what it means to "velvet the chicken" - can someone please explain?

Wait a minute........is this what it means?

Place egg white in a large bowl and whisk lightly (but not enough to make it go frothy). Whisk in the other coating ingredients. Add the chicken strips and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This looks good and I can't wait to try it.

I have to admit however, I don't know what it means to "velvet the chicken" - can someone please explain?

Wait a minute........is this what it means?

Place egg white in a large bowl and whisk lightly (but not enough to make it go frothy). Whisk in the other coating ingredients. Add the chicken strips and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Velveting is a cooking technique where shredded, diced. or sliced meat or poultry is marinated in a base usually of cornstarch/egg/sherry/oil. The marinated meat is then stirred into an amount oil that has been heated from about 250' to no higher than 350'. The meat pieces are stirred carefully around to coat all surfaces with the oil , for about 30 seconds. The meat is then drained. It is not fully cooked, but when it is returned to the dish and reheated in the sauce, the cooking is completed.

The idea is that the juices are retained and the meat is tender and has a wonderful texture. You can't get the same result in regular stir/frying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This looks good and I can't wait to try it.

I have to admit however, I don't know what it means to "velvet the chicken" - can someone please explain?

Wait a minute........is this what it means?

Place egg white in a large bowl and whisk lightly (but not enough to make it go frothy). Whisk in the other coating ingredients. Add the chicken strips and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Velveting is a cooking technique where shredded, diced. or sliced meat or poultry is marinated in a base usually of cornstarch/egg/sherry/oil. The marinated meat is then stirred into an amount oil that has been heated from about 250' to no higher than 350'. The meat pieces are stirred carefully around to coat all surfaces with the oil , for about 30 seconds. The meat is then drained. It is not fully cooked, but when it is returned to the dish and reheated in the sauce, the cooking is completed.

The idea is that the juices are retained and the meat is tender and has a wonderful texture. You can't get the same result in regular stir/frying.

THANK YOU!!! I am going to try to do this this weekend. Is there a ratio to the cornstarch/egg/sherry/oil? Is it all 4 ingrediants or does it vary depending on what you are cooking? Sorry if this is taking this off topic............Della

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THANK YOU!!! I am going to try to do this this weekend. Is there a ratio to the cornstarch/egg/sherry/oil? Is it all 4 ingrediants or does it vary depending on what you are cooking? Sorry if this is taking this off topic............Della

Here is a link describing it, and a recipe to follow. Barbara Tropp is/was one of the last words on this.

http://melindalee.com/recipearchive.html?a...124&item_id=374

In the recipe, I usually use Egg Beaters with good results.

Some cooks don't use as much oil. The standard seems to be 2 to 4 cups, but some use as little as 1/4 to 1/2 cup, with the same results. The idea is to get 'warmed' oil on all the surfaces for a short period of time. The warm oil cooks the egg and cornstarch enough to seal in the juices of the meat.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fuchsia Dunlop's explanation of the origin of General Tso's chicken (and a recipe) are here.

The foks at metafilter.com--who are amazing, tireless researchers, have the answer here. Clicky...


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By SusieQ
      Hello all, I need help figuring out which part of the sichuan peppercorns I bought to use. From what I've read, I think I'm supposed to use the hulls rather than the black seeds. Toast the hulls and grind them up, correct?  This is for use in my fave dish, mapo tofu. Thanks for your help! 
       
      (Well, that didn't work. I guess I don't know how to upload a photo. Nuts. Maybe I don't need a photo? Maybe just tell me whether to use the hulls or the black seeds, or both?)
    • By liuzhou
      While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past, few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades".
       
      What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets, where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been unable to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find an accepted translation so have to translate literally.
       
      Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in  traditional Chinese characters,  now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad.
       
      I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation.
       
      Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also, please point out any errors of mine.
       
      I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as  pak choi or pok choi are Anglicised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜; Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'.

      So, here we go.


       
      Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis
       
      This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc.  In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more. 
       
      This cabbage is also frequently pickled and becomes  known as 酸菜 (Mand: suān cài; Cant: syun1 coi3) meaning 'sour vegetable', although this term is also used to refer to pickled mustard greens.
       

      Pickled cabbage.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions.
       
      For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant.
      First a declaration of non-interest. I am very carnivorous, but I have known vegetarians who have passed through China, some staying only a few weeks, others staying for years.
       
      Being vegetarian in China is a complicated issue. In some ways, China is probably one of the best countries in which to be vegetarian. In other ways, it is one of the worst.
       
      I spent a couple of years in Gorbachev-era Russia and saw the empty supermarkets and markets. I saw people line up for hours to buy a bit of bread.. So, when I first came to China, I kind of expected the same. Instead, the first market I visited astounded me. The place was piled high with food, including around 30 different types of tofu, countless varieties of steamed buns and flat breads and scores of different vegetables, both fresh and preserved, most of which I didn't recognise. And so cheap I could hardly convert into any western currency.
      If you are able to self-cater then China is heaven for vegetarians. For short term visitors dependent on restaurants or street food, the story is very different.
       
      Despite the perception of a Buddhist tradition (not that strong, actually), very few Chinese are vegetarian and many just do not understand the concept. Explaining in a restaurant that you don't eat meat is no guarantee that you won't be served meat.
       
      Meat is seen in China as a status symbol. If you are rich, you eat more meat.And everyone knows all foreigners are rich, so of course they eat meat! Meat eating is very much on the rise as China gets more rich - even to the extent of worrying many economists, food scientists etc. who fear the demand is pushing up prices and is environmentally dangerous. But that's another issue. Obesity is also more and more of a problem.
      Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places.
       
      Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu.
      Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour.
       
      Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat.
       
      Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs!
      Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish.
       
      To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet.
       
      There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable.
       
      Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based).
       
      To be continued
    • By liuzhou
      It is possibly not well-known that China has some wonderful hams, up there with the best that Spain can offer. This lack of wide -knowledge, at least in the USA, is mainly down to regulations forbidding their importation. However, for travellers to China and those in  places with less restrictive policies, here are some of the best.
       
      This article from the WSJ is a good introduction to one of the best - Xuanwei Ham 宣威火腿  (xuān wēi huǒ tuǐ) from Yunnan province.
      This Ingredient Makes Everything Better
      I can usually obtain Xuanwei ham here around the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, but I also have a good friend who lives in Yunnan who sends me regular supplies. The article compares it very favourably with jamon iberico, a sentiment with which I heartily agree.



      Xuanwei Ham
       

      Xuanwei Ham
       
      more coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      I have just returned home to China from an almost two week trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. To get there I first travelled by train to the provincial capital, Nanning. The local airport only does domestic flights, whereas there are direct flights from Nanning. The flight time required that I stay overnight at the Aviation Hotel in Nanning, from which there is a regular direct bus to the airport.
       
      The trip to Nanning is about an hour and a half and passes through some nice karst scenery.
       
       
      After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so.
       

       

       
      It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City.
       

       

       
      The rest of my trip can be seen here:
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...