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General Tso's Chicken

1 lb boneless chicken, cubed
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp and 2 tsp cornstarch
5 dried pepper pods
1-1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp rice wine
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce

In a large bowl, thoroughly blend the tablespoon of cornstarch and
the egg; add the chicken and toss to coat. If the mixture bonds
too well, add some vegetable oil to separate the pieces. In a small
bowl, prepare the sauce mixture by combining the 2 tsp cornstarch
with the wine, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce.

Heat 1-2 inches of peanut oil in a wok to medium-high heat (350-400).
Fry the chicken in small batches, just long enough to cook the
chicken through. Remove the chicken to absorbent paper and allow
to stand (this step can be performed well in advance, along with
the sauce mixture, with both refrigerated).

Leave a tablespoon or two of the oil in the wok. Add the pepper
pods to the oil and stir-fry briefly, awakening the aroma but not
burning them. Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the
pieces are crispy brown.

Add the sauce-mixture to the wok, tossing over the heat until the
sauce caramelizes into a glaze (1-2 minutes). Serve immediately.
Serves 4, along with steamed broccoli and rice.

Sherry substitutes well for the rice wine. Sugar in the sauce ranges
from as little as a few teaspoons to a full half-cup in some recipes.
Soy sauce, too, varies dramatically, rising as high as double that
listed above. Nearly any sort of vinegar can be used. In some
recipes, a tablespoon of soy sauce is added to the egg-and-cornstarch

Optional Sauce Ingredients: A grind of fresh black pepper, a teaspoon
of sesame oil, a teaspoon of MSG, a clove or two of garlic, a couple
of fresh chopped scallions or green onions, 1-2 teaspoons of Chinese
chili sauce, fresh ginger, a teaspoon of hoisin sauce, the minced
rind of an orange, and many other items may be added to the sauce.
Any vegetal additions should be added to the oil along with the

Option - Light Tso Sauce: The traditional sauce for General Tso's
is a heavy, spicy glaze, different from the lighter broth-based
sauces found on most other Chinese dishes. Some prefer a lighter
Tso sauce, too, and this can be achieved by tripling the cornstarch
in the sauce and adding a half-cup of fluid. The "fluid" can be
chicken broth, water, or even fruit juice (both orange and pineapple
have been used). Cook the sauce only 'until it thickens, instead
of waiting for a glaze.

General Zou Zong-Tang was a general of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty
of China, responsible for suppressing Muslim uprisings; his name
was used to frighten Muslim children for centuries after his death.
It is questionable whether or not the General (or his quartermaster)
actually invented General Tso's Chicken . . . it may have been the
invention of Taiwanese immigrants to the United States and Europe.

This recipe was compiled from over forty different recipes for the
dish, combining the best aspects of each, averaging sauce ratios,
and simplifying the basic recipe to it's core ingredients. It is
"Perfectly Average Tso."


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