General Tso’s Chicken – 左宗棠雞

Ingredients:
3 lb Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in bite-size chunks
1 cup & 2 Tbsp Corn Starch, divided
1-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
1/2 cup and 1 tsp Soy Sauce, divided
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
8-12 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒
2 Scallions, cut in pieces
4 cups Broccoli, cut in bite size pieces
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon

1 1/2-2 cups Brown Rice
3-4 cups Water (or more)

Directions:

  • Cook the Brown Rice according to the directions on the bag and set aside
  • In a seal-able plastic bag, combine 1 cup Corn Starch and the Cayenne Pepper, mixing well.
  • Pat the Chicken pieces dry with a paper towel, and add to the bag. Seal and shake, coating the chicken in the powder.
  • Bring a wok to high heat and add 1/2 of the Vegetable Oil.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and saute in the oil until browned on all sides.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  • Blanch or Steam the Broccoli spears and set to the side.
  • In a glass, whisk together the Rice Wine and remaining Cornstarch.
  • Heat the wok again, and add the Rice Wine/Corn Starch mixture, 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, the Honey, Chicken Broth, Ginger, slivered Garlic, and Crushed Red Pepper, mixing well.
  • Heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  • Add the Scallions, Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers, and Chicken and coat well.
  • Pour the Mixture into a serving dish.
  • In another sealed bag, combine the remaining Soy Sauce, minced Garlic, and Lemon Juice.
  • add the Broccoli Spears and mix well.
  • Garnish the Chicken with the Broccoli or serve in a separate dish.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: So I was inspired to make this dish because of a very awful version that I ordered in from the local take-away. This version should be more flavorful, slightly spicier, and not as unhealthy as the heavy batter, deep-fried kind.

General Tso’s Chicken is believed to have been created in New York City in the 1970s as an attempt to introduce the spicier Hunan cuisine to what was generally Cantonese cuisine in the city. There are two chefs who are attributed as possible inventors of this dish, Chef Peng Jia of Peng’s Restaurant formerly of E 44th St and Chef T. T. Wong of the Shun Lee Palace restaurants. I have also found claims of invention by a chef in Taiwan about the same time. As far as I can tell, the Peng Jia seems to be the most widely accepted, though no one seems to know for sure.

General Tso’s Chicken is named after Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan Provence. I cannot find any reason or rational as to why the dish is named after him. Another source suggests that the name is really a mis-translation. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to “Zongtang” in “Zuo Zongtang chicken” was not a reference to Zuo Zongtang’s given name, but rather a reference to the homonym zōngtáng 宗堂, meaning “ancestral meeting hall”. As one who is completely ignorant to Chinese languages, I’ll have to take her word for it. Also regionally, in the US, there are various spellings of used…Gua, Tsao, Tsa, Cua, Zuo, etc… reflecting how poorly we Americans transliterate Chinese.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. The recipe sounds so delicious. I really love to try it. Thanks for sharing.


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