Serious Eats: Talk

Recipe: Fuchsia Dunlop's General Tso's Chicken

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Photograph from iStockphoto.com

General Tso's Chicken | serves 2 to 3
This Taiwanese version of General Tso's chicken is "rather different from the one you're used to," says Fuchsia Dunlop, Chinese food expert and author of Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province. Lacking any sugar, it is not sweet like the American version.

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 tablespoon double-concentrate tomato paste, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon potato starch (corn starch can be substituted)
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
11/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons chicken stock or water

Ingredients for the chicken:
12 ounces (about 4 to 5) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons potato starch (corn starch can be substituted)
1 quart peanut oil, more as needed, for frying
6 to 10 dried red chile peppers
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Scallions, sliced thinly, for garnish.

Rice, for serving


Procedure
1. Make the sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

2. Make the chicken: Unfold the chicken thighs; lay on a cutting board. Remove as much of the sinew as possible. (If some parts are very thick, cut in half horizontally.) Slice a few shallow crosshatches into the meat; cut each thigh into roughly 1/4-inch slices, and place in a large bowl. Add the soy sauces and egg yolk; mix well. Stir in the potato starch and 2 teaspoons peanut oil; set aside.

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

4. Pour 3 1/2 cups 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. Add half the chicken; fry until crisp and deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Repeat with second batch of chicken. Pour oil into a heatproof container, and wipe the wok or saucepan clean.

5. Place wok or saucepan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. When hot, 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 wok, and stir vigorously to coat. Remove from heat; stir in the sesame oil, and top with scallions. Serve with rice.

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