General Tso’s Chicken

Recipe from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho; photo by Jody Horton Yield:  2 or more servings
Prep Time:  25 minutes Marinating Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  10 minutes

General Tso’s Chicken

This version of General Tso’s Chicken resembles the original created by Peng Chang-Kuei in Taiwan. Strictly speaking it is not a traditional Hunan dish, but the technique and flavors are inspired by the chef ’s Hunan background. It is not as sweet as the standard American version, and is laced with lots of garlic. — Kian Lam Kho



2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine

1 large egg white

¹⁄₂ teaspoon salt

¹⁄₄ teaspoon ground white pepper


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into ³⁄₄-inch cubes



³⁄₄ cup chicken stock or water

¹⁄₄ cup Shaoxing cooking wine 

2 tablespoons Chinkiang black vinegar 

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1 tablespoon sugar


4 cups vegetable oil

³⁄₄ cup tapioca starch

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

¹⁄₄ cup dried red chiles

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil


1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish (see Notes from the Test Kitchen)

2  tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens, for garnish


  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken cubes and stir well. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine all the sauce ingredients in another bowl and mix well.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat until it is shimmering, about 375°F (see Notes from the Test Kitchen). Put the tapioca starch in a large bowl and roll the marinated chicken cubes in the starch. Be sure to coat each piece generously. Fry the chicken cubes in the hot oil in 2 batches until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain the chicken cubes and set them aside on a double layer of paper towels.
  4. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil from the wok. Add the garlic and ginger to the wok and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chiles and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Stir the sauce mixture so the starch is blended completely and pour it into the wok. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Return the chicken to the wok and quickly toss the pieces in the sauce. Add the sesame oil and stir it into the chicken.
  5. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallion greens.

Reprinted from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. Copyright © 2015 by Kian Lam Kho. Photos by Jody Horton. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Kitchen Tips

Notes from the Test Kitchen

  1. To toast sesame seeds, pour the whole seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so the spices do not burn.
  2. If you don’t have a frying thermometer, you can heat the oil over medium heat and carefully drop in a small piece (about an inch square) of bread. If it turns brown all over and floats to the surface in 60 seconds, the oil is about 350° to 365°. If it browns sooner, the temp is higher: 20 seconds and it’s somewhere between 382° and 390°F; 40 seconds and it’s between 365 and 382°F.

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