This week’s edition of ‘Recipes of questionable historical accuracy’ features the delicious and American-ised General Tso’s chicken recipe. As well as being one of the most popular Chinese takeaway items in the United States, it’s also named after a real Chinese military hero (check out author Jennifer Lee’s ‘The Search For General Tso‘). But anyway – it falls within our remit because i. it’s tasty and ii. you can easily make it at home and fool yourself into thinking you’re having a Chinese takeaway. We don’t have the bright neon orange American takeout version to compare to, but if you’re looking for a comforting, sticky sweet fakeaway, you could do a lot worse than Mr. Tso’s namesake dish. This one goes out to the man himself.
Nothing strange or startling here compared to most other Chinese fakeaway recipes: get everything prepped and ready before frying the chicken, otherwise you’ll not have a fun time. You really will need some egg fried rice to go with this, which you can helpfully find a recipe for on our Sesame Chicken and Egg Fried Rice post. The things; the things you must know:
- Make the sauce real nice – Everything that makes this tasty and reminiscent of a Chinese takeaway is in the sticky sauce. Sherry works really well, but if you don’t have any or don’t fancy raiding a relative’s liquor cupboard, then mirin – which can be picked up in Tesco/Sainsbury’s – is a decent substitute.
- Drip drip – When frying chicken in general, it’s always a good idea to let a bit of the marinade drip into the flour mixture – the little clumps that form will give you crispy nibblets around your chicken. We want nothing but crispy nibblets here.
- Chopp’d – Depending on your preference, chop the peppers up as you like – thicker chunks will take longer to cook but will probably remind you a bit more of your local takeaway; thinly-chopped veg will cook quicker but will more than likely catch in the pan. Decisions!
Just make sure the sauce is sorted before frying your chicken, and there’s not an awful lot that can go wrong here. What you should do is go to Belfast’s Asian Supermarket and buy these bad boys and eat them for dessert. There. Don’t say we don’t do anything nice.
General Tso’s Chicken Recipe
- 250 ml Vegetable Oil
- 500 g Chicken Thighs
- 250 g Corn Flour
- Pinch Pepper
- Pinch Salt
- 10 Dried Red Chillies (whole)
- 1 knob Fresh ginger
- 4 cloves Garlic; minced
- 2 Red Peppers; chopped
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 whole Egg
- 35 g Sugar
- 1 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
- 1 tbsp Ketjap Manis (add an extra 1 tbsp of soy sauce if unavailable)
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp Sherry
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 250 ml Chicken Stock
- Prep things: Finely slice the garlic, ginger and peppers. Soak your dried chillies in warm water while you go about your business. Cut the chicken thighs into cubes and place them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the marinade ingredients to the bowl with the chicken and mix with your hands until incorporated. Add the cornflour and a pinch of salt and pepper to the chicken, and mix until the chicken cubes are coated and separate. Add a touch more cornflour if this isn't happening.
- Add the ingredients for the sauce into a bowl, mix, and transfer to a medium pot/saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium, with the aim of reducing by about half – you want a wooden spoon to leave a trail when you drag it through the sauce. Remove your chillies from the warm water.
- Pour oil into a large pot and bring to a medium high heat. You want to deep fry the chicken, so how far up your pot/skillet you go with the oil will depend entirely on the size of it.
- Add the chicken to the heated oil and fry until golden brown. Remove carefully and place onto kitchen towels to drain.
- In a separate pan/wok, add 1 tbsp of oil and bring to a high heat. Add the ginger and garlic, along with the dried chillies and peppers, then add the sauce mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the chicken, tossing to coat. Serve and enjoy.
After a Friday night fakeaway, you cheeky little scamp? You’ll probably want to check out our Easy Skillet Pizza recipe, in that case.
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