Chinese Soul Food
I always say that there’s nothing inherently wrong with crispy chicken cutlets in a thick, spicy, sticky-sweet, and salty sauce, but General Tso’s chicken isn’t Chinese. (There is a documentary about this topic called The Search for General Tso.) It does have the spirit of Chinese cooking, in that it combines textures and balances flavors, which is why it works. While it may not be authentic to Chinese cuisine, this dish is delicious. Because customers demanded General Tso’s chicken, we had to figure out how to make it. My father, who loved strawberry jam, decided on a whim to add it to the sauce. We also served a mild version of this dish called Strawberry Chicken. Customers loved it.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
© 2021 Hsiao-Ching Chou / Sasquatch Books · Reproduced with permission. · Chinese Soul Food by Hsiao-Ching Chou, published by Sasquatch (£21.99)
You Will Need
In a large bowl, put the soy sauce, onions, sugar, and garlic, and stir to combine. Set aside.
Cut the chicken into pieces about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Add the chicken to the soy sauce marinade and stir to coat. Cover or transfer to a ziplock bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Line a plate with several layers of paper towels. Set aside.
Place about 1½ inches of vegetable oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it registers 350 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Dredge the marinated chicken pieces in the cornstarch. Fry the chicken in batches, stirring carefully to ensure even frying, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to the prepared paper towel–lined plate. Set aside.
To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the water with the cornstarch. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and pepper flakes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, jam, sugar, and the remaining ¼ cup water, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the jam and sugar. Gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. You may not need all of the slurry. Let the sauce simmer for about 1 minute, or until the sauce darkens and starts to glisten. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, and toss to combine. Serve with rice.