I love chicken. I love Chinese food. I love Chinese chicken dishes. I really, really do.
It’s a matter of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. There’s just something about that combination that makes me weak. The heady, nutty scent of toasted sesame oil with the pungent garlic and spicy ginger and the umami of the soy sauce renders me powerless. When I smell that there’d better be food on the horizon. And quick.
When I first saw this over on Evil Chef Mom, I knew I had to have it that night. Sweet and hot, crispy and tender, garlicky, gingery General Tso’s chicken is a mainstay of Chinese buffets and restaurants, but I knew it would be infinitely better, fresher and healthier at home. Since my husband was at work in the big city, I texted him saying, “Please pick up boneless, skinless chicken thighs and broccoli. Need them desperately. Love you!”
He came home with bone-in, skin-on drumsticks and peas. Sigh. He meant well. Needless to say, I didn’t get my General Tso’s chicken that night.
The next night, my darling brought me pork chops and salad.
The night after that? Beef to grind for hamburgers and potatoes. I worshipped the idea from afar and waited for the moment I would get to the store by myself.
The next two big shopping trips yielded *GASP* no boneless, skinless chicken thighs because there was an apparent run on them in Amish country. Go figure.
General Tso and I were becoming star-crossed lovers.
Finally, when I went shopping for my birthday meal last week, boneless, skinless chicken thighs were abundant on the shelves and I did a happy dance that resembled Chris Farley’s ‘Tommy Boy’ version of the Flashdance number near the butcher’s counter. He looked at me a little funny, but I didn’t care. General Tso was mine at last.
He was totally worth waiting for. Love always is.
Adapted ever so slightly from and with major thanks to Evil Chef Mom.
General Tso’s Chicken
For the chicken:
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
- canola peanut or vegetable oil for frying
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar a.k.a. Demerara or Turbinado
- 1 tablespoon peanut canola or vegetable oil
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- Steamed broccoli
- Fresh hot cooked white rice
Prep your chicken:
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the sesame oil, soy sauce, egg white, and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch until a thick slurry forms. It will look gummy but smooth.
- Add the chicken pieces and stir until all are evenly coated. At first it may appear that it will not come together but it does!
- Set aside, covered lightly with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Begin the sauce:
- Add the tablespoon of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat.
- Stir the garlic and ginger into the oil and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining sauce ingredients until smooth. Pour into the garlic and ginger, stirring, until thick and shiny. Keep over a low burner partially covered to stay warm.
To fry the chicken:
- Heat 1/2-inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed, high-sided frying pan or skillet over high heat.
- When the oil is shimmering, add one piece of chicken at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan.
- Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until deep golden brown and crisp on both sides**.
- Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat the process until you've cooked all the chicken.
- Slide all the chicken into the prepared sauce and toss to coat. (If desired, add the steamed broccoli to coat with the sauce also.) Increase the heat to medium, stir and cook just until hot all the way through.
- Sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve immediately over white rice.