General Tso’s Chicken brings a touch of the exotic to your everyday.
This dish is really really really yum. Period.
O.K. let’s take a step back and start at the beginning… I’ve been trying to replicate some favourite take-out dishes at home lately. Check out my tasty creations so far: Mongolian Beef and Sweet & Sour Chicken which were both made in the slow cooker!
Next up, General Tso’s Chicken.
What the heck is General Tso’s Chicken anyway? Is it an ancient Chinese dish named after a famous Hunan General? Nope. General Tso’s Chicken became popular in America via some enterprisingly Taiwanese chefs who opened Hunan restaurants in New York in the 1970s. This American-Chinese creation was an instant hit that remains super-popular today. You can read all about the history in this New York Times article.
My version is not as crispy as the restaurant kind, but it’s lighter and less fatty while remaining totally delicious and addictive…
Traditionally this dish is deep fried in 2-3 cups of oil to achieve a crunchy, yet sticky outside coating. I always try to keep the oil as low as possible in my recipes, but sometimes it’s a challenge. You need all that cornstarch in order to create that caked-on yummy coating on each piece of chicken that’s synonymous with the recipe. Here’s what I recommend…
When you are browning each batch of chicken pieces in 1 Tbsp of oil, it gets really sticky in the pan. To over come that you have too choices: one – add lots more oil, or two – my choice, I browned each batch and then wiped out the pan before adding the next Tbsp of oil and my second batch of chicken pieces. I did this for each of the four batches and it worked well. I also made sure I tapped off as much excess cornstarch as possible before adding it to the oil.
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp pepper
- 4 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size cubes
- ⅔ cup hoisin sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- 6 Tbsp packed brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- ½ cup water
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes (or more if you like)
- ½ tsp minced ginger
- sliced green onions for garnish
- Whisk together corn starch, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Add to a re-sealable bag.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add ¼ of the chicken pieces to the corn starch mixture in the bag and toss to coat. Full tap off any excess corn starch mixture as you add the coated pieces to the hot pan to brown on each side for 1 minute. Repeat 3 more times with remaining chicken pieces. If too much corn starch builds up on your pan, stop, wipe out the pan, and add fresh oil.
- Combine Sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Add ⅔ of the Sauce to a slow cooker with all of the browned chicken pieces. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Just before serving, add reserved Sauce to slow cooker and stir gently. Serve garnished with sliced green onions over steamed rice.