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As a rule, I don’t cook things that I can’t pronounce, so I knew I had to do a little homework. Thank goodness for Google! Allow me to share what I learned. This spicy-tangy chicken recipe is named after Zuo Zongtang (General Tso), a formidable military leader of the late Qing dynasty. He played an essential role in a civil war waged in China in the mid-19th century and, he apparently liked the dish. The words such as “tsao” and “tsau” and the very popular “tso” are found in Chinese takeout menus everywhere. As for the pronunciation, it couldn’t be easier. The “T” is silent. “Tso” is pronounced “so.” Now, equipped with this newfound knowledge, I am comfortable in sharing this easy recipe with you. So let’s get to it!
This recipe qualifies as easy because the actual cooking is very minimal. The dish comes together in less than 15 minutes with no complicated steps. However, before the cooking, there is about a half-hour of prep work that needs to be done. Nothing difficult, but it does take time which is why I consider this a weekend meal. I don’t want to mess with 30 minutes of prepping ingredients after a long day and before a busy evening. That said, when you’re not in a rush, this dish is so worth it – it’s delicious. It’s slightly sweet, a little spicy with a zing of fresh garlic and ginger.
You could cut down on the prep time by using store-bought minced garlic and minced ginger, but I don’t recommend it. While it does save time (and I’m usually all for shortcuts), and it’s definitely better than using garlic powder and ground ginger, I don’t like the additives in these products. It’s a personal choice. You may also be lucky enough to find pre-cut chicken. Just make sure that it’s in one-inch pieces, not strips (like for stir-fry).
Regardless of how it’s accomplished, the garlic and ginger need to be grated or minced, and the chicken needs to be cut up. The broccoli also needs to be cut into florets. Frozen broccoli won’t cut it in this recipe. It’s got to be fresh. Feel free to use more than indicated.
The sauce ingredients (the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a little cornstarch) need to be combined, and the chicken broth needs to be measured. This isn’t just a recommendation. It’s critical for success. As I mentioned, the cooking progress happens very quickly, and there won’t be time when it all comes together.
There are two other items needing advance prep. The sesame seeds need toasting, which only takes a couple of minutes in a dry pan. The rice, served with the chicken, also needs to be prepared using your method of choice.
Place the chicken pieces in a ziplock plastic bag with the cornstarch and toss until the chicken is completed coated.
Cook the chicken in a heated skillet with oil until the chicken is golden brown, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking. Use a splatter guard to help control the splattering grease. Transfer the chicken onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Now is when things move really quickly. Add a little more oil to the pan. It will heat up fast. Add the minced garlic, ginger, and dried peppers along with the chicken broth scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the hoisin sauce mixture to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened.
Add the broccoli and cook until tender. Return chicken to the skillet and stir to coat with the sauce. Simmer for 1 more minute.
Serve the chicken with rice and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.
General Tso’s Chicken with BroccoliCourse: Main, DinnerCuisine: Chinese-AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Make this classic Chinese food take-out dish in one pan and enjoy crispy tender chicken tossed in a thick tangy-sweet sauce loaded with flavor. Served with rice, it’s a perfect weekend meal!
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons. canola oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
2 cups cooked rice, for serving
- Prep: Mince or grate the garlic and ginger, and combine with red pepper flakes in a small bowl.. Cut broccoli into florets. Cut chicken into one-inch pieces. In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, and rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch until combined. Toast the sesame seeds – see notes. Prepare rice using your preferred cooking method.
- In a large resealable plastic bag, toss the chicken thighs with ¼ cup cornstarch. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Shake off the excess cornstarch and add chicken to oil. Cook for 4 minutes and stir. Cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes mix, and chicken broth, making sure to scrape up any brown bits. Add the hoisin sauce mixture to skillet and simmer until slightly thickened, 1 minute. Add the broccoli and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet and stir to coat. Simmer for 1 more minute.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve over rice.
- To toast sesame seeds place them in a small skillet or sauté pan on med-high heat, gently shake or stir until the seeds begin to turn golden – it only takes a couple of minutes. Immediately remove from heat.