Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

INTRODUCTION

I always heard about General Tso’s chicken and I have never eaten it even though I was stationed in China on and off for at least 3-4 years.. It is also a funny case that the name of the dish, Zuo Zong Tang (aka General Tso Tsung Tang – a general in Chinese history) had nothing to do with the dish ..but the dish was named after him..

 

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

“General Tso’s chicken (pronounced [tsu̯ò]) is a sweet, piquant, deep-fried chicken dish that is served in North American Chinese restaurants. The food has been associated with Zuo Zongtang (Tso Tsung-t’ang) (1812–1885), a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader from Hunan Province. Zuo himself could not have eaten the dish as it is today, and the dish is found neither in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, nor in Xiangyin County, where Zuo was born. Moreover, Zuo’s descendants, who are still living in Xiangyin County, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish.“  (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tso’s_chicken)

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

Apparently, this is a dish that is not common in China but common overseas just like lemon chicken, orange chicken, honey chicken or type of dishes that was created overseas and tailored to suit the taste buds of Westerners..  I understand that the creator of this dish, Mr. Peng Chang Kuei has just passed on 4 December 2016 in Taipei and he is the one who created this sweet and spicy chicken dish ..  As per the http://shanghaiist.com, it was written that:

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

“The origin of General Tso’s Chicken dates back to 1952 after Peng had fled to Taiwan in the wake of the Chinese Civil War. During a visit by US Seventh Fleet commander Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Peng exhausted his repertoire of dishes. Seeking a way to entertain his guests on the last day, Peng threw together a concoction of chicken cut into chunks, fried in oil, and served with a smattering of spices. Radford was so impressed with the dish that he summoned Peng to tell him its name. Peng immediately responded by naming a famous 19th century general (one who happened to be Hunanese). And that’s how General Tso’s Chicken was born. However, Peng’s decision to name his famous dish after a historical figure came to be a source of confusion. Although many traditional Chinese dishes are named after famous people, General Tso is not one of them, and unlike those dishes, Peng’s creation came to be embraced by an audience far removed from its Hunan origins.” (Source: http://shanghaiist.com/2016/12/05/general_tso_chicken_inventor_dead.php)

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

Since this is such a famous overseas Chinese dish that me, as a Chinese who has never try, it sparks my curiosity to try cooking the dish..I have read through many recipes and it seems there is no “standard, authentic” recipe. The key words from my researches are : “deep fried, chicken, crispy, sweet, spicy, glossiness, sticky coating” and for the ingredients sauce: “ starch, sugar, cooking wine, vinegar, dark soya sauce” which are mentioned in most recipe. Some has opted to use chilli sauce or even tomato sauce..

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

After I cooked the dish, I can’t help but to link this dish with kung pao chicken  (Recipe: Kung Pao Chicken aka Gong Bao Ji Ding (宫保鸡丁)). The taste and look of the dish are almost the same except that kung pao chicken need no deep frying and uses Sichuan peppercorn and  some nuts for the dish.  It is also less sweet as compared to General Tso’s chicken dish. I believed that deep frying with batter is specially designed to suit the palates of the Westerners. I would not be surprised if there are linkages between 2 dishes since Hunan dish (湘菜) has a very close relationship with Sichuan dish (川菜) .

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)


WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 4-6 Adult Servings

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

  • 500 grams of chicken de-boned drumstick , cut into cubes
  • 3 sprigs of spring onions , chopped
  • 10 dried chilli , cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger garlic

Chicken marinating ingredients/sauce ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

Sauce ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of white or black vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • Pinches of salt

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

  • Cut the chicken into 2 cm cubes. Put the chicken cubes and all the marinating ingredients into a bowl, stir until well combined and let it marinate for at least one hour.

  • Heat up a pot of oil and deep fry the chicken cubes until golden brown. During the entire process of pan frying, high heat shall be used. Dish up and drain away excess oil.

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

  • Soaked the dried chilli and drain.

  • Put all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, stir until well mixed. Set aside.

  • In a wok, put 2 tablespoons of oil, sauté the minced ginger garlic and dried chilli until aromatic . Add the sauce ingredients and let it cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the deep fried chicken, stir until well combined. Continue to cook until your desired sauce thickness and all chicken pieces are well coated with the sauce. Sprinkled with chopped spring onion before off the heat  and the dish is ready to be served.

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)


CONCLUSION

Even though this is a Western take away dish but personally I am of the humble opinion that this dish can be served as a chicken dish during reunion dinner. It is definitely a presentable dish to serve your guest with this spicy and sweet sticky chicken dish.

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

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Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)


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Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

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Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

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Chinese Takeaway Recipe : General Tso’s Chicken (左宗棠鸡)

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