Today's world food that you can prepare in your home kitchen is one of
the most popular Chinese dishes in North America. It's origin is
disputed and it may not even be a Chinese dish at all, but rather a
Chinese-American dish that was a fusion of both Hunan and Szechuan
styles that better appealed to North American palates.
the dish itself is known by a dizzying array of names that include:
General Tso's, General Tao's, General George's, General Tsao's, General
Zhou's, General Mac's, General Gao's, General Gau's, Chou's, General
Tzo's, General To's, General So's, General Joe's, Jordan Chicken,
General Toso's, General Chow's, General Chicken, Admiral Tso's, Pei Wei
Spicy and General Chu's. You say poe-tay-toe, I say pah-tah-toe, who
cares! As I say: the truth is in the taste.
Depending on what
you read or who you listen to, this dish may have first been prepared
by any number of people. A sampling of popular origin stories would
A.) Either General Zuo Zongtang (the dishes namesake
regardless of personal participation), his wife or chef during the
1800s of the Qing Dynasty.
B.) The chef of popular Chinese politician Tan Yankai who used the hero's name on the dish to honor him around 1900.
C.) A Taiwanese chef by the name of Peng Chang-kuei may have first prepared the dish in New York in the early 1970s.
D.) Another Chinese chef named T.T. Wang may have first prepared the dish also in New York, also in the early 1970s.
my extensive (well, not really extensive) research, I have even found a
similar, more savory Australian variant of the dish also called
"General Tso's Chicken". See, a wonderful, engaging, mystery with some
controversy, a perfect element to immortalize this dish!
event, this is an extremely popular dish in North American Chinese
restaurants and buffets. It is sweet and spicy goodness and not all
that difficult to prepare in your home kitchen. There are no exotic
ingredients and it can be replicated in even the most humble of home
kitchens. Try it, you'll like it.
The recipe below is a good
representation of the dish as I have had it in a number of Chinese
restaurants on the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada. Personally, I'm
still tweaking it so that it tastes just like it does at my favorite
local Chinese restaurant. I'll change it here when I do.
General Tso's Chicken
For the sauce:
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 TBS garlic (minced)
1 TBS ginger (minced)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sherry or white wine
3 cups chicken broth
For the chicken and broccoli:
3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs cut into 1" square pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup cornstarch
4 cups of broccoli florets
2 tsp ginger (minced)
2 tsp garlic (minced)
3/4 cup peanut oil (plus more oil for deep-frying)
2 cups green onions (thinly sliced, reserve a little for a garnish)
16 small dried hot peppers or 2 tsp red pepper flakes
a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the water. Add the
garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sherry/wine and chicken
broth. Stir until sugar dissolves completely. Move to the refrigerator
In separate bowl, beat the egg, soy sauce and
white pepper together. Add the chicken and coat it well. Add cornstarch
to a smaller bowl and thoroughly coat each piece of chicken. When
finished return the chicken to the bowl. Add all but 2 tablespoons of
the peanut oil to help stop the chicken pieces from sticking together.
a wok over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of the peanut oil to
the wok. Immediately, add the ginger and garlic and swirl once. Add the
broccoli and stir fry for a few minutes. Add a little water if
necessary. You want the crunch to remain in the broccoli, DO NOT
OVERCOOK OR BURN. When done, remove the broccoli from the wok and set
Replace the wok over the heat. Add enough of the frying
oil to fry the chicken in small batches. Fry the chicken until golden
brown, remove and set aside to drain. Continue until all the chicken is
Remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok.
Replace the wok over the heat. Add the green onions and hot peppers and
stir fry for a few moments (don't burn!). Then add all the sauce and
stir while cooking over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble
and thicken (this can happen quickly so be prepared). As soon as the
sauce starts to thicken, add the chicken and broccoli and stir to coat
well. Cook until everything is warmed through.
Remove from heat. Serve over rice garnished with green onions or a light sprinkle of sesame seeds.