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Skip the takeout joint and make this easy quick General Tso’s chicken in your own kitchen. It’s better than the restaurant!
Asian Takeout Copycats
I’m the first one to admit that sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking. When that happens, I usually head to my local Chinese take-out restaurant for my dinner. For me, since I cook for a living, it’s like having a night off.
However, I often think about how much cheaper it would be if I just made these dishes in my own kitchen. I am, first of all, very frugal. Now if you want to tackle a Chinese dish, I suggest that you don’t start with things that require an experienced Chinese chef to make–such as shark fin–but many of the dishes on your local take-out menu are easy to duplicate at home. This quick General Tso’s chicken is one of the easiest to duplicate too.
Heat Level Is Up To You
General Tso’s chicken is normally listed with the spicy dishes on the menu.
There is a bit of heat in the recipe, but it’s not overpowering and that comes from the Sriracha.
What makes this a “hot” dish is the dried red chile peppers–and that goes by the amount you put in. If you’re a little bit reluctant, I assure you that using the amount of chiles I state in the recipe is not going to make your mouth go on fire–especially if you don’t bite into the chile pepper. I admit it, I’m a bit of a wuss so I don’t bite into the pepper. However, it imparts a nice flavor when you “wake it up” by frying it.
You also have the option of using less (and of course more if you are so inclined) peppers than I recommend. And if you can’t get those peppers readily, then use a pinch red pepper flakes which are easy to get.
Selecting The Chicken
As a rule, Chinese use dark meat chicken (thighs) in recipes where the chicken is coated and fried such as orange chicken. It has more flavor than breast meat and keeps it’s shape better.
You can use breast if you want to do so. You can also use a combination of thighs and breast. I usually do the latter because it’s a nice balanced mix.
When cooking the chicken, fight the urge to do it all in one fell swoop. Doing that would crowd the pan resulting in the chicken not developing the crust it needs. You’d basically be boiling it in the oil rather than frying it.
Quick General Tso’s Chicken
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch chunks (see NOTES)
- 3 tbs oil see NOTES
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 6 dried red whole chiles see NOTES
- 1 green onion thinly sliced, for garnish
- 5 tbs honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce low sodium preferred
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 3 tbs unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tbs Sriracha
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 1 lb fresh green beans trimmed
- 1 tbs oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Spread beans on a large baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and toss until coated. Sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning halfway through the cooking for 12-15 minutes. Beans should be crisp-tender and be blackened in spots. Set aside.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Mix cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken, tossing to coat all surfaces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Cook half the chicken, about 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally until chicken is completely cooked and has a light golden crust. Place chicken on a plate and set aside.
- Now fry the remaining chicken—if using breast you may have to add an additional tablespoon of oil at this point.—for 5 minutes. Now add the chiles and cook, stirring to make sure the dried peppers make contact with the bottom of the pan so they can toast and puff up, about 1 more minute.
- Stir in the sauce and return the first batch of chicken to the pan. Toss so all the chicken is coated with the sauce. Cook for an additional 2 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
- Transfer chicken to a serving dish and top with the sliced green onion.
- Serve with the prepared green beans and Jasmine rice.