General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken is one of the most popular Chinese restaurant recipes in the US. It’s super easy to make as it’s just battered, fried chicken, served in a yummy sauce. As always, homemade is healthier, fresher and cheaper than takeout. Plus there’s the pride and joy of knowing you can do it just as well!

The recipe for General Tso’s Chicken was invented in Taiwan for some visiting American Navy SEALs in the 1950s. The chef, who had fled there with the republican forces of Chiang Kai-shek during the communist revolution, named the dish after Zuo Zongtang, a famous general from his home province of Hunan. The chef eventually moved to the US and opened a Chinese restaurant that popularized the recipe.

It’s typical of Hunan cuisine in that it derives its flavor from ginger, garlic, soy sauce, dried red chilies and rice wine vinegar. Also hoisin sauce which incorporates fennel and fermented soybean paste. Brown sugar was added to adapt the dish to the American palate.

Note: If cooking for kids, leave out red pepper flakes and add at end for adults.
  1. Prepare the sauce: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and cornstarch.

  2. Prep the breading: In a large ziplock bag, combine cornstarch, flour, salt and pepper. Shake, shake, shake. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites.

  3. Bread the chicken: Coat chicken pieces in egg whites, lift and allow to drip off, then drop into breading bag. Shake till coated.

  4. Fry the chicken: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half a cup of oil. Once oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches (don’t crowd), 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate.

    Add sauce to same pan and simmer until warm and thickened. Toss the chicken in the sauce just before serving.

    Serve with white or brown rice (or for some Pan-Asian fusion, Kimchi Fried Rice) garnished with green onions and/or sesame seeds.