General Tso’s chicken did not preexist in Hunanese cuisine,but originally the flavors of the dish were typically Hunanese — heavy, sour, hot and salty.
– Chef Peng Chang-kuei
Lisa and I just finished watching the fascinating documentary “In Search of General Tso’s Chicken”. I found it so interesting not so much for the study into the origins of one of America’s most iconic ‘Chinese’ dishes, but because it confirmed my long held belief of why American Chinese food is so damned sweet. Chinese immigrants realized we Americans have a cultural sweet tooth and add copious quantities of sugar to our food to make it loved. The issue and reasonings are far more in depth and complex, but will also shed a lot of light on the story of Chinese immigration in America. The persecution Chinese immigrants were subjected to relates a recurring storyline in America that has happened with many different ethnic group. In some ways, it could be the story of Muslims today.
The side effect of watching was I went on an all out Chinese food marathon shortly after. One dish I ‘created’ was a take on General Tso’s chicken. Perhaps Chef Peng Chang-kuei, the man credited with creating General Tso’s Chicken, would be rolling in his grave if he knew of my spin on his classic Hunanese dish. I couldn’t help it, all the ingredients were just sitting around at my house waiting t be part of something epic.
General Tso’s chicken started as a dish inspired by classic Hunanese ingredients and a love for the province. Chef Peng Chang-kuei escaped oppression in his native China in 1949 and ended up living in New York City where he created General Tso’s chicken in 1973. To appeal to Americans his blasphemed the dish and added extra sugar. The dish became so popular it spread across the country and eventually back to China. I really do not want to spoil the movie. Cook this take on the classic and watch the movie!
If you make this recipe, snap a picture and hashtag it with #PISTOUBLOG so we can see your creation all over social media!
- General Tso’s Sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine, or Sake or Sherry
- 2 teaspoon corn or potato starch
- Marinade and Halibut
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, Sake or sherry
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 2 tablespoons corn or potato starch
- 1 pound halibut cheeks, or halibut cut into 1 ounce pieces
- to finish dish
- vegetable oil heated to 350 degrees for frying
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 dried red chilies
- 2 cups flowering purple broccoli, or steamed green broccoli
- 1/4 cup wild spring onions, or scallions, chopped
- Heat sesame oil in a large pan till hot.
- Add ginger and garlic and cook for one minute, or until very fragrant.
- Add sugar, tomato paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce and wine and bring to a boil.
- Mix corn starch with 2 tablespoons of water and whisk into sauce.
- Turn sauce off and get the rest of the dish ready.
- Mix soy, wine, egg white and corn starch together.
- Marinate halibut cheeks for a few moments.
- Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a large heavy bottom pan.
- Drop halibut cheeks into the hot oil one by one and cook till brown and crispy, about five minutes. When they are done drain onto paper towels.
- Heat remaining vegetable oil in a saute pan large enough to hold everything.
- Add dried red chilies and toss quickly.
- Add halibut cheeks and sauce and toss till everything is coated well.
- Plate on a serving platter and surround with steamed broccoli.
- Scatter chopped wild spring onions or scallions over.