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How to Make General Tso's Chicken 左宗棠雞

Learn to make this Chinese restaurant favorite on a brand-new season of Hunger Pangs.
By Published July 5, 2022

Find me a more popular Chinese-American restaurant dish than General Tso's Chicken.

And for good reason: Crunchy fried nuggets of boneless chicken in a savory, sweet sauce, perfect over steamed rice. Served hot and fresh at a restaurant, you might not find a more delicious dish.

The problem? If you order it takeout, it's never as satisfying as a hot-and-fresh version at the restaurant.

The solution: Make General Tso's Chicken at home. It's much easier than you'd think.

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In this new season of Hunger Pangs, we tackle six more Chinese dishes that's wholly delicious and requires less effort than you'd think.

First up: a General Tso's Chicken that rivals any you'd find at a restaurant. Watch the video here, with step-by-step instructions below.

Note: In the original version of this recipe, we used boneless and skinless chicken breast. It's our opinion that chicken thighs taste much better. If you prefer chicken breast, however, substitute four pieces of chicken breast (1 1/2 pounds), and deep fry for three minutes (instead of four minutes with thighs).

General Tso's Chicken

Marinade and Sauce

  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds) cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


Coating and Frying

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups cornstarch
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, for frying


Before You Begin

In step 4, the fried chicken pieces can be held in a 200-degree oven for up to 30 minutes before being added to the sauce (if held any longer, they will lose their crispness). If the sauce is too thick in step 5, whisk in 1 tablespoon of water before adding the crispy chicken.

Instructions

  1. For the marinade and sauce: Whisk hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and water in bowl. Combine 6 tablespoons hoisin mixture and chicken in zipper-lock bag; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in wok or large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups hoisin mixture and simmer, whisking constantly, until dark brown and thickened, about 2 minutes. Cover and keep sauce warm.
  3. For coating and frying: Whisk egg whites in shallow dish until foamy. Combine cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining hoisin mixture in second shallow dish until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Toss half of chicken with egg whites until well coated, then dredge chicken in cornstarch mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken to plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
  4. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil registers 350 degrees. Fry half of chicken until golden brown, about 4 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to paper towel-lined plate. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. To serve: Warm sauce over medium-low heat until simmering, about 1 minute. Add crispy chicken and toss to coat. Serve.