General Tso chicken is my favorite dish which has a delicious taste and a mixed flavor. It is spicy and also sweet and definitely, you will enjoy it like me after trying it. after reading this article you will cook it perfectly and can serve it to your special guests. Let's first introduce general tso chicken and then will explain its recipe with all steps.

general tso chicken

Why is general tso chicken famous?

In Chinese cuisine, general tso chicken is very popular dish. It is known to be originated in a province of China called Hunan. The basic idea of this dish is to fry deeply the pieces of chicken and then coating them in spicy and sweet sauce. The sauce is prepared from rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sugar and chili peppers. General tso chicken is served to guests with rice and vegetables, which enhance its attraction and taste.

General tso chicken got reputation in United states of America during the period of 1970s. Chinese immigrants, who opened restaurants in United States introduced this dish there. Those restaurants became famous for Americanized Chinese cuisine.

History of general tso chicken:

The general tso chicken got its name from a Chinese military leader, General tso. But there is not any definite proof of his connection to this dish. There is another story that this recipe is named after another military leader having named Zuo Zongtang, who lived in Hunan. 

The popularity of general tso chicken in the United States of America was due to its unique sweet and spicy flavors which were combined in a single dish. The dish was appealing to the tastes of Americans. Still general tso chicken is an important part of the menu in American Chines cuisine restaurants in the country. 

Ingredients for general tso chicken:

  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thoghs (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • Half cup corn starch
  • One-fourth all-purpose flour
  • Half tablespoon salt
  • One half cup water
  • Half cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 green chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Sesame seeds and chopped onions for garnishing

Use of corn starch in general tso chicken:

In general tso chicken, we use cornstarch as a thickening or coating agent. To prepare general tso chicken, first corn starch and eggs are mixed together and pieces of chicken are coated in this mixture. Cornstarch is also used to thicken the sauce, which gives it a glossy and sticky texture. In many Chinese-American dishes, Cornstarch is used as a famous ingredient, which gives them consistency and signature texture.

Use of all-purpose flour in general tso chicken:

In general tso chicken, all-purpose flour is also used for coating the chicken pieces. To prepare the recipe chicken pieces are cut into small sizes and then coated with a mixture of cornstarch, soy sauce, and eggs. After that, these are coated with all-purpose flour and then they are fried. These steps result in golden and crispy chicken pieces that are worthy of looking and taste. The crispiness of our layer of chicken forms due to the coating of all-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour also makes the sauce more thick and consistent. By adding all-purpose flour chicken also does not become soggy. So, all-purpose flour is a vital ingredient to cook general tso chicken.

Garlic and onions in general tso chicken:

Garlic and onion are also vital ingredients of general tso chicken. They increase the depth and flavor of the dish. Garlic is famous for its slightly sweet and pungent flavor and onions are known for their savory taste.

onion for general tso chicken

During the cooking of general tso chicken, garlic is added to the sauce to give it a unique flavor.  It is added in the chopped form in the sauce. Onions are also necessary as they make the base of the sauce. These are first diced and then deep fried and then added to the sauce. The mixture of onions and garlic in the sauce for general tso chicken increases the complexity of the sauce and balances its sweetness. How much amount of garlic and onions you use in the sauce depends on your choice.

Soy sauce for general to chicken:

In many Chinese dishes, soy sauce is considered the key ingredient. Similarly in tso chicken, it is the heart of the dish. It has a rich spicy flavor. Fermented soybeans and wheat are used to make soy sauce. Soy sauce is used in combination with other ingredients in general tso chicken. These components are vinegar, sugar, garlic, and ginger which together give a spicy and sweet touch to the sauce. This sauce acts as the best counterpart of crispy chicken pieces.

soy sauce in general tso chicken

Soy sauce also gives a rich brown color to the sauce. Due to this sauce, general tso chicken has its particular appearance. Cornstarch is added to this sauce because its gives it a sticky texture. Due to stickiness of sauce it easily sticks to chicken pieces.  Soy sauce can also be used in other components of the dish like vegetables or rice to enhance their flavor. 

Hoisin sauce in general tso chicken:

Traditionally, hoisin sauce is not complemented with general tso chicken. But you can use hoisin sauce as one ingredient of your sauce to increase the complexity of the flavor. If you are trying to cook general tso chicken at home, then you can try hoisin sauce instead of soy sauce if soy sauce is not available.

hoisin sauce general tso chicken

If you have soy sauce and also want to change its flavor, then you can add 1-2 table spoons of hoisin sauce in that. In that case you can adjust the contents of other spices to balance the flavor. As hoisin sauce is sweet, so you should focus on adjusting the sugar content in sauce mixture.

Rice vinegar in general tso chicken:

Rice vinegar gives a slightly sweet and tangy taste to general tso chicken and balances the richness of the sauce. As vinegar is acidic, so its addition to the recipe helps to tenderize the chicken pieces and promote its flavor. Chicken pieces also become easy to chew.

rice vinegar in general tso chicken

Rice vinegar also acts as a preservative and helps to increase the shelf life of any dish. Rice vinegar is a very necessary part of general tso chicken recipe and gives it a signature taste.

Brown sugar:

Brown sugar is added to the recipe as it counteracts the spiciness of the recipe and enhances the sweet flavor of the sauce. It also gives a caramelized texture to the coating of chicken pieces. Brown sugar also gives a beautiful color to the sauce.

Calories content of general tso chicken:

It depends on the recipe and serving size of general tso chicken that how much content of calories it contains. However, a typical serving size of tso chicken which is about 140 grams or 1 cup, has about 400 to 500 calories.

As general tso chicken is deep fried and then a spicy and sweet sauce is used to coat it. So, these steps surely increase the calories content of the dish. Additionally, sugar further increases the calories of the general tso chicken. 

If you are conscious about your calorie intake, then make sure to know about the serving size of this dish. Then you can make a guess of its calorie content. Instead of using fried chicken pieces, you can go for grilled or fried general tso chicken. This would be a healthier substitute for health-conscious people.

The process to cook general tso chicken:

1.  Take a medium size bowl and add cornstarch, salt and flour in it. Whisk them together slowly until a batter is formed.

2.  Take half cup of vegetable oil in a separate pan and heat it over medium heat.

3.  Take the chicken pieces and dip them in batter and shake off extra batter from them. Then place them in pan containing hot oil.

4.  Fry the coated chicken pieces in oil for about 4 to 5 minutes. After that they will become crispy and got amazing golden brown color. 

5.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried chicken pieces and place in in a large plate which is lined with paper towel.

6.  Then take a separate frypan and heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in it. Add green onions and garlic and fry them until 2 minutes.

7.  Then add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir all the ingredients well and let the sauce heat until t gets simmer. 

8.  After that add the fried chicken pieces and mix them well to ensure the coating of sauce on the chicken pieces.

9.  Now general tso chicken is ready to serve. It is served hot and garnishing is done with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Precautions to cook general tso chicken:

To get a healthy and safe dish, it is necessary to follow the general precautions. These are as follows; wash your hands before starting to cook any recipe. All utensils and surfaces specified for cooking must be clean. Raw ingredients should be perfectly stored in separate boxes. Precautions to cook general tso chicken:

1. How to handle raw chicken:

When handling raw chicken, it's important to avoid cross-contamination with other foods. Use a separate cutting board and utensils for the chicken, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling it.

2.  Cooking temperature for tso chicken:

To cook the general tso chicken, make sure to keep the temperature at least 74 degree Celsius which is safe to eat chicken.

3. Hot oil for general tso chicken: 

To do coating sauce on chicken pieces, hot oil is used. When working with hot oil be careful to avoid any burn. You can use a deep-fry thermometer to check the temperature of hot oil. To avoid any splashes of hot oil, do not overcrowd the frypan.

4. Overcooking should be avoided:

Do not overcook the chicken pieces. Overcooking will make the meat tough and dry.  Do not allow the chicken pieces in the sauce too long. As the coating is done, remove the general tso chicken from the sauce.

5. Allergies by tso chicken:

Those who have any allergy to chicken or any sauce used in general tso chicken, should not eat it. They should make necessary changes to the recipe to make it suitable for them. They may take any other type of meat, or use a different sauce. They may also use any other type of oil.