General Tso’s Chicken

I used to work right next to a Chinese restaurant and that’s when I discovered General Tso’s. Now that I’m back in school and not working I don’t get to eat there anymore, but I still crave it like every week! General Tso’s is a classic Chinese-American dish that every fat cow should learn how to make! It’s sweet, spicy and did I mention deep-fat fried? Let’s get to it!

The first time I tried making this I kinda failed: (recipe)


It doesn’t look too disgusting but for how much time, money and effort I put into making this it was a total failure.

The main problem I had with this attempt was the soy sauce. This recipe calls for dark soy sauce, which is like your typical soy sauce except it is thicker, darker and less salty. I used it in this recipe and Korean Fried Chicken and both times it made the chicken super black and overpowered the dish. I probably just got some poor quality dark soy sauce or the wrong kind, but I am not a fan of dark soy sauce at the moment!

The second time I attempted Gernal Tso’s was much better: (recipe)


Can we just appreciate the color for a moment? It’s actually red! ♥

This recipe tasted so much better – in fact, I ate all of it…


+ Perfect spiciness

+ Sauce has some decent flavors, thickens right up and doesn’t turn everything black

+ Fairly simple ( a lot more than the first recipe)

+/- It’s more savory than sweet (most people consider this a good thing but I guess I prefer mine overtly sweet? lol)


– Lots of random ingredients (bad if you don’t cook lots of weird things)

– Hard to get perfect, crispy chicken (partially my fault)

– Used a lot of corn starch (I had a lot left over but I cut my chicken in larger strips for ease, which might be why)

Stuff I Learned:

+ Alcohol is a great additive to your marindae when deep-frying stuff! It has a lower boiling-point and is more volatile, so it makes the outsides crispy and keeps the insides juicy (i.e. it keeps the water in and the alcohol evaporates). For this recipe I used Mirin, a Japanese rice wine (8% ABV), in my marinade. Sherry is around (18% ABV), which is probably more ideal. I used Sherry and vodka in the first recipe and the chicken was nice and crispy! No worries, despite the rancid smell of vodka, you can’t taste it in the food. The preferred way is to use Shaoxing wine instead of sherry but I couldn’t find it locally.

+ Dried red chili peppers are the best thing ever invented! They are super cheap and can be bought at the Asian market and possibly at the grocery store. A word of caution: don’t cut them open or the seeds will go everywhere and make your dish exceedingly spicy. If a recipe calls for 8 chili peppers, it means whole peppers. I made this mistake when experimenting with them in my pasta.

+ Using chicken thighs might actually make this a lot better? I used frozen chicken breast both times just because it was free (thanks mom). Thighs are usually juicier and a tad fattier and thus, usually better.

I followed the recipe fairly closely but I did add a small thumb-size piece of ginger (minced) and I omitted the scallions. They do add some nice color contrast and a bit of freshness, but I’m not too huge on onions so I didn’t go out of my way for them. I also substituted Sriracha for the chili paste.

2 thoughts on “General Tso’s Chicken

    1. Oh, sorry… I should rewrite that to be more clear. Essentially you marinade the chicken in alcohol and when you fry it as normal it helps keep the chicken tender but crispy. It’s the same principle when you use beer batter. Pure cornstarch instead of flour makes it really crispy too!


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