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General Tso Chicken lovers, count the ways

Thursday, October 08, 1998

By Arlene Burnett

We're cooking Chinese - General Tso's Chicken, to be exact. General Tso's Chicken, a combination of quick fried chicken and vegetables, along with delectable hints of ginger and garlic, is a menu staple in most American-Chinese restaurants.

Now you can make it at home. Chopping the vegetables and chicken is time-consuming, but it's worth it. Both versions are delicious and can be made in the time it takes to call for take-out delivery or pick-up. Having a deep fryer helps.

If you are rushed for time, do what we did: We cleaned and chopped all vegetables and meat, placed them separately in covered bowls, then measured all other ingredients and set them aside. Everything except the spices went into the refrigerator until we were ready to start our stir-fry that evening.

The first recipe is easier to make because there are fewer ingredients, but, surprisingly, that doesn't take away from the flavor of this dish. The chicken was tender, and the red pepper flakes added just the right amount of spiciness.

The sauce and addition of green and red peppers in the second recipe make that dish a little bulkier than the first recipe. Both dishes call for either hot sauce or hot peppers: amounts vary according to personal taste. We served both dishes with white rice.

Kevin Connelly, Joan Tinney and Arlene Kinnee all wanted a good recipe for General Tso's Chicken. These recipes are outstanding.

This first recipe was sent in by Mary Ann Devlin of Dravosburg. Serve this dish with the white rice and a light salad with ginger dressing.

General Tso's Chicken

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced fine
1 egg, beaten
2 cups corn oil
1/4 to 1/ 2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional (we used 1/4 teaspoon)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced fine
4 whole chicken legs, boned and skinned (ask the butcher to bone and skin the chicken, it's a lot easier than doing it yourself)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 dried hot chiles

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic and ginger in a small bowl; set aside.

Cut each chicken leg into 4 pieces.

Heat oil.

Combine egg and cornstarch in a large bowl; blend well. Add chicken pieces in batches and fry in oil until crisp and browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Drain chicken pieces on paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of oil from wok. Add chiles, red pepper flakes and toss over high heat several seconds.

Return chicken to the wok with the soy sauce mixture and stir-fry 2 minutes. Transfer to dish and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Here's Sophie Mochan of Wilmerding's recipe for General Tso's Chicken. We agree with Sophie and her grandson (he makes it for his college friends) - it's delicious.

General Tso's Chicken

4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1/ 2 cup chopped green onions
About 2 cups oil for deep frying(any mild tasting oil will do, weused Crisco vegetable oil)
Ingredients A:
4 tablespoons sherry
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Ingredients B:
2 tablespoons red pepper sauce
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons vinegar (we used rice vinegar)
4 teaspoons sesame oil (because we find sesame oil very strong tasting,we cut down the amount to 2 teaspoons, but that's optional)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped ginger

Cut chicken into 1 1/2 inch square chunks.

Blend Ingredients A in a bowl. Marinate chicken in mixture for 1/ 2 to 1 hour.

Mix Ingredients B in a bowl and set aside. Cut green and red peppers in 1-inch chunks; set aside.

In a deep pot or deep fryer, fry marinated chicken until golden brown.

Drain and set chicken aside.

In a skillet or wok, heat 4 tablespoons oil until it begins to smoke. Add green onions and fry until golden.

Add Ingredients B to wok and stir-fry until mixture thickens, then add chicken, green and red peppers and stir-fry until hot, about 1 minute.

Garnish with parsley or tomatoes and serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Because of Agnes Matrosky's son has an allergy to cotton seed, she's searching for a recipe for pie crust made with vegetable oil and cake icing without shortening. Can anyone help?

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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