Feb 20, 2013

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

It's almost the last day of the fifteen days of Chinese New Year, and a new wok somehow landed on my doorstep in a box that had a smiley arrow on it. How does this keep happening?

General Tso's Chicken

I think it might have something to do with listening to an old Splendid Table podcast with Ming Tsai as the guest talking about the virtues of using a wok. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The first dish I tried was >this vegetable stir fry<. Loved it.

For my next try, I decided to be adventurous and try deep frying in the wok. I am more than excited about how this chicken turned out, and it was really easy. We served it with rice and a salad, and it was a wonderful meal. The chicken was so incredibly crispy.

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

About 3 servings if it is the only main course... more if you are serving several dishes (like Chinese takeout!)  Adapted with permission from Appetite for China, and The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home. Here is a link to the original recipe


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs sliced into one inch cubes
1 1/2 C cornstarch 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 C (for frying) plus 1 T (for stir frying) peanut or vegetable oil (I used peanut)
1/4 generous tsp red chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Scallions, thinly sliced.

1 T soy sauce 
1 T Chinese white wine (or dry sherry)
2 egg whites

1/4 C chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 T tomato paste
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp sesame oil
1 T sugar
1 tsp cornstarch


  • In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside. 
  • In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. 
  • Toss in the marinated chicken pieces to coat with the cornstarch mixture and place the pieces on a plate to "stage" them for frying. 
  • Heat the three cups of oil in the wok to 350 degrees F. 
  • In two or three batches (three for me), fry the chicken pieces for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown and fully cooked through. 
  • Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat. 
  • Pour the oil into a heat proof container, and wipe out the wok (don't wash it). 
  • Reheat the wok with 1 T of oil over medium to high heat. 
  • Add the chili flakes and garlic and cook for 20 seconds. 
  • Add the sauce and stir until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • Add the chicken pieces and stir until coated with the sauce. 
  • Place the coated chicken pieces in a serving dish and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallions. 
Enjoy! I was thrilled with this dish.

Disclosure: For this post, I am joining the Chinese New Year Virtual Pot Luck hosted by Diana Kuan, to celebrate the release of her first cookbook, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook.  U.S. based participants in the Chinese New Year Potluck will receive a copy of the book. 

General Tso's Chicken


  1. This looks incredible! Homemade Chinese food is far superior to takeout - I don't want to order out anymore. It's only seven am and this is making me so hungry. Fabulous photos.

    1. Thanks Cathleen! Don't tell anyone, but I actually had the leftovers for breakfast the next day =)

    2. Had to steal it from my own house. :-).

    3. I can't believe it has been three years since my original comment! I just got around to making this for dinner tonight. Hubby loved it; and I loved the crispy texture of the chicken. Thanks for the recipe!! :)

    4. I'm so glad you liked it! I need to make this again. So love the flavors.

  2. General Tso's leftovers for breakfast sounds great to me. :) Thanks for participating in the potluck, Karen!

  3. True story .. we had general tsos take out for dinner .. I told Hubbie I really need to find a recipe so I can make it at home .. little did I know you were coming to the rescue. This looks amazing and I will definitely be making this for the man its his absolute favorite! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. That's awesome TZ. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Can you believe I've never had this dish? I just printed off another recipe last week and now I'll incorporate your recipe, too! It looks divine!

    1. Thanks so much Liz. I was really happy with this recipe.

  5. Hi Karen, what type of chili paste do you recommend to use for this recipe? Thanks.

  6. We tried this today in our kitchen and it was just incredible! In fact, half of the serving was gone in a minute!

  7. Im going to try this one day. Looks amazingly good! Thank you for sharing this one.


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