General Tso's chicken

A couple of years ago, we went to Sparky's. Remember that little restaurant on Spur Tank Road decorated with American kitsch? They are closed now but they used to have some interesting food. One of the dishes was General Tso's chicken. Apparently there was a real life General Tso in China but this particular dish never made his acquaintance. I guess it is as Chinese as Chicken Manchurian.

Googling for more information, I found that General Tso's chicken is popular in Chinese restaurants in America. Cubes of chicken are deep fried then tossed in a spicy sweet sauce. Since all the ingredients were at hand, I got right down to making my version of the General's chicken.

And it was yummy. I did wonder if it would taste like kung pao chicken, as the ingredients are somewhat similar, but while kung pao chicken is a Sichuan specialty and uses peanuts, General Tso's chicken supposedly originated in the Hunan province. It is best served with steamed rice or even fried rice.

General Tso's chicken

450 gm boneless chicken breast (or thigh)

1 egg white
1 cup cornflour
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
White pepper powder

1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese wine
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (white vinegar can be used instead)
1 teaspoon sugar ( I don't like it too sweet)
1/4 cup tomato sauce

 Other ingredients
6 dry red chillies, cut each into 3
1" ginger, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 spring onions, sliced

Slice the chicken into 1" x 1.5" pieces.
Mix the marinade ingredients and coat chicken with it.
Keep aside for half an hour, then heat a wok with 1/2 a cup of oil.
Deep fry the pieces in 3 or 4 batches, drain well on kitchen towels.
Mix the ingredients for the sauce.
Remove most of the oil from the wok, heat it again and fry the chillies.
When they turn a deep red, add the ginger and garlic.
Stir it around, add the sauce.
When it starts to boil, add the fried chicken.
Stir well till the chicken is coated with the sauce, add the spring onion slices. Dish out and serve with steamed rice or plain rice.

General Tso's chicken is garnished with toasted sesame seeds. I had made this dish for a friend who was allergic to sesame seeds, hence only the spring onion garnish. To do the authentic presentation, toast 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium flame. When the seeds start to pop, remove and sprinkle over the chicken.


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