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General Tso’s Chicken – Taiwan Version

May 15, 2010

Finished and plated!

I’ve yet to meet someone who actually dislikes General Tso’s chicken.  It’s one of our all-time restaurant favorites for sure, so when A came home from the library with the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook it was the first recipe we picked to cook.  We decided to go with the “Taiwan Version” or- to be more accurate- E set us on that course when he unknowingly mixed up the sauce for this recipe rather than the sweeter Americanized version.  Although we might have consciously chosen the latter to cook first, the book claims that this is the style more accurately representing the original dish, so we both looked forward to tasting the “real deal” tonight.  There will be plenty of opportunities to Americanize it in the future!

Adapted from Fuschia Dunlop’s General Tso’s Chicken- Taiwan Style

Serves 1-2 people with rice and another dish.

Finishing Sauce
1 tbsp double-concentrate tomato paste, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
3/4 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
11/2 tsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp chicken stock or water

Marinade and Chicken
12 oz (about 4 to 5) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp corn starch
1 quart peanut oil, more as needed, for frying
6 to 10 dried red chile peppers
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
Scallions, sliced thinly, for garnish.

1. Prepare the chicken and marinade: Trim fat and tendons from chicken and discard. Cut chicken  into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the soy sauces and egg yolk; mix well. Stir in the corn starch and 2 teaspoons peanut oil; set aside.

2. Prepare the finishing sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Cut the chile peppers into 1/4-inch pieces, discarding seeds. Set aside.

4. Pour  peanut oil into a large wok or deep saucepan or enough oil to rise 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. Set over high heat until oil reaches 350 to 400 degrees. Cooking chicken in small batches (do not crowd pan/pot), fry until crisp and deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate.  Pour oil into a heatproof container such glass jar or metal can, and wipe the wok or saucepan clean.

Work in progress: Mise en place (left) and frying the chicken (right).

5. Place wok or saucepan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add chile peppers and stir-fry for a few seconds, until they just begin to change color. Add the ginger and garlic; stir-fry for a few seconds longer, until fragrant. Add the sauce, stirring as it thickens. Return chicken to pan and stir, evenly coating the chicken with the sauce. Remove from heat; stir in the sesame oil, and top with scallions. Serve with rice.

Execution was not without excitement and mishap; E accidentally tripled the soy sauce (and therefore the salt) when he used a tablespoon rather than a teaspoon,  and the entire affair was conducted tag-team style since we were handing off our little one intermittently to keep him content.  It turned out reasonably well; we’ll definitely have to try it again to fairly evaluate the recipe, but we enjoyed tonight’s prototype nonetheless!


This is THE original recipe for Gen. Tso’s Chicken. It was created by Peng Chang-Kuei, a Hunanese chef who fled to Taiwan with Nationalist leaders after Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution. Mr. Chang-Kuei eventually moved to NYC where he Americanized the dish, adding sugar and Chinese black vinegar for a sweeter flavor. FYI: We doubled the recipe since we did not make another dish. There was enough for each of us and one Tupperware for lunch the next day.  We also used only one kind of soy sauce and we’re not quite sure if it is “light” or “dark.” I plan to ask the next time I go to the Asian market.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Teresa permalink
    May 16, 2010 8:47 am

    wow! that looks yummy 🙂

  2. Cristina permalink
    May 18, 2010 12:10 am

    I really like the pictures! The frying one is quite dynamic 😛

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