Based on The Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt on SeriousEats.com
For the Marinade:
- 1 egg white
- 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 2 Tbsp vodka (80-proof is best for this)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large bite-sized chunks
For the Dry Coating
- 1/2 C flour
- 1/2 C cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or plain white vinegar)
- 3 Tbsp chicken stock
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- tsp toasted sesame seed oil
- 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp neutral oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (about a 1-inch piece)
- 2 tsp minced scallion, plus 6 to 8 scallions, white parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 8 small dried red Chinese or Arbol chilies
First, make the marinade and marinate the meat
- lightly beat the egg white until frothy, then combine it with the soy sauce, vodka, starch, and Shaoxing wine.
- Set half of the marinade aside. (I underline that because I’ve made this a few times now and often forget to set half aside.)
- Add chicken to half the marinade, and stir to coat it well. Cover and set aside
Then prepare the breading
- Whisk together the flour, starch, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
- Pour in the reserved half-batch of marinade. Mix it with a whisk until the mixture is coarse and clumpy. Set aside.
Prepare the ingredients for the sauce
- In a bowl, whisk together the wine, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, starch, stock, and sesame oil. Whisk until there are no sugar or starch lumps. Set aside.
- Combine the garlic, ginger, and minced scallion in a bowl. Set aside.
- Have the chilies and the scallion chunks ready to go.
Cook the chicken
- Heat 2-3 inches of oil in the bottom of a wok or large Dutch oven. Use a Thermapen Mk4 to monitor the temperature. We’re going for 350°F (177°C).
- While the oil is heating, coat the chicken in the breading. One piece at a time, move the chicken from the marinade to the crumbly breading mixture, tossing it to coat. When all the pieces have been added, toss them all together and press the crumbly bits onto their surfaces.
- When the oil reaches the targeted 350°F (177°C), lower a few pieces, one at a time, into the oil. Move them around as they cook, making sure they don’t stick together.
- As the chicken pieces brown, test their temperatures with the Thermapen. Each piece should be at least 165°F (74°C, for safety) but would be even better anywhere from 175°F to 200°F (79°C to 93°C). As each piece comes to temp, remove it from the oil.
- Work in batches until all the chicken has been fried.
Make the sauce and finish the dish
- If frying the chicken in a wok, pour most of the hot oil out into a heat-safe vessel and set it carefully aside. Reserve about two teaspoons of the oil in the wok.
- Place the wok back on high medium-heat. Add the chilies and toast them until they just become fragrant in the hot oil.
- Add the minced scallions, ginger, and garlic to the wok and stirfry the aromatics until they soften, but try not to let them brown.
- Stir the bowl with the sauce liquids once more to re-incorporate the starch. Once no starch is clinging to the bottom of the vessel, pour the mixture into the hot wok. It should bubble and start to thicken almost immediately. Allow it to thicken more until it looks like, well, Chinese food sauces. Add the scallion chunks.
- Add the chicken back to the wok and stir everything together to combine and to coat the chicken evenly in the sauce. At first, you may think there isn’t enough sauce. Keep stirring and tossing it all together. You’ll be surprised how well the chicken is coated in the end.
- Serve it up over steamed white rice and enjoy.