Dinner: General Tao, General Tso, General Tsao, and even General Gao Recipe

Is it true what the say: a general by any other name would taste as sweet?  And sour?  And spicy?  We all know the answer is no - General Tao sauce almost always takes on a new incarnation with every restaurant or pre-mixed bottle.  But what if it didn't come from the deep fryer of your local Golden Happy-Time Eatery or from a bottle with a giant rooster on it?  What if it comes from a skillet in your very own kitchen?  Could it even come close to the Tao you've come to know and love?

Believe it or not, it actually tastes better - for two very good reasons: 1) from home, the ingredients are fresh, meaning less preservatives and much more potent flavors, and 2) you can amend the recipe to your personal tastes - if you're particular about your sticky Tao, soupy Tso, spicy Tsao or mild Gao (did I miss one?), then you can make it that way, and not spend weeks trying to find the take-out that fits your personal tastes!

This recipe is a variation on the Food & Wine Magazine recipe from the May issue - many thanks to them for publishing an amazing alternative to greasy take-out!


1/2 cup + 1 tbs of Olive oil
1/4 cup + 2 tbs of cornstarch 
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup +2 tbs soy sauce  (I STRONGLY suggest a low sodium soy sauce)
1 cup chicken broth 
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
3 tablespoons sugar 
4 tablespoons of ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
scallions, sliced

1. Thoroughly coat cut chicken breast with the 1/4 cup cornstarch in a large mixing bowl
2. Dribble the 2tbs of soy sauce over the mixture
3. Dribble the sesame oil over the mixture
4. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, allowing the soy sauce and sesame oil to marinate, and the cornstarch to seal in the juices of the chicken.
5. In a small bowl, whisk chicken broth, chile-garlic sauce, sugar, 1/4 of soy sauce and the remaining corn starch.
6. In a medium pot, heat 1 tbs of oil
7. Add the ginger and garlic, cook until the garlic BEGINS to darken
8. Add the broth mixture, and whisk until thickened.  If it seems too thick, it will burn, and add some water.  If it's too watery, it won't adhere to the chicken properly, so add more cornstarch. 
9. In a deep pan, heat the remaining oil (should be 1/2" thick).  Check to see if the oil is ready by flicking a drop or two of water into it.  The oil should be hot, but not dangerously spasmodic.
10. Using tongs (or a fork while wearing gloves), add the chicken one piece at a time, and let cook until very browned and crisp - you may have to flip the chicken depending on how big your pieces are, or how much oil you use.
11. Place the chicken on paper towels, carefully pat them down, quickly add to the sauce mixture and stir. I like to leave the heat on so the chicken simmers in the sauce a bit. 
12. Add scallions until they start to go limp.  Again, stir.  Serve with rice and/or broccoli.
chinese food recipe
A slightly healthier alternative to the  generally deep fried General's dish, and for the price of one take-out serving, you can make it again and again.  Don't forget to amend the recipe to make the sauce as hot and sticky as you like - sexy, isn't it?

Questions, additions, comments?


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