General Tsos chicken

Fuchsia Dunlop shares an authentic Chinese recipe for delicious fried chicken in a hot and sour sauce
By Fuchsia Dunlop
General Tsos chicken
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: medium


  • 4 boned chicken thighs, with skin, about 340g total
  • groundnut oil, , for deep-frying
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • steamed rice, , to serve

For the marinade

  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp potato flour
  • 2 tsp groundnut oil

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp double concentrate tomato purée
  • ½ tsp potato flour
  • ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp clear rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp stock, , or water
  • 6-10 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic

Tips and Suggestions

This version of the dish is based on the one I learnt in the kitchen of the Peng Yuan restaurant in Taipei. It was invented by veteran chef Peng Chang-kuei, who still runs the restaurant with his son, Peng Tieh-cheng. The dish is hot and sour, and lacks the sweetness of the Americanised version. You can use chicken breast instead of thigh meat if you prefer.


1. For the marinade: To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in small bowl.

2. Unfold the chicken thighs and lay them, skin down, on a chopping board (if some parts are very thick, lay your knife flat and slice them in half, parallel to the board).

3. Use a sharp knife to make a few shallow criss-cross cuts into the meat this will help the flavours to penetrate. Then cut each thigh into bite-sized slices, an uneven 5mm or so in thickness. Put the chicken slices in a bowl, pour over the marinade and toss until well coated.

4. In a deep-fat fryer or wok, heat enough groundnut oil for deep-frying to 180-200C. Add the chicken and deep-fry until golden. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.

5. For the sauce: mix the tomato purée and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl, then add the potato flour, soy sauces, rice vinegar and set aside.

6. Use a pair of scissors to snip the dried chillies into 2cm pieces.

7. Heat a wok with 2-3 tablespoons of groundnut oil. Add the dried chillies and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant and just changing colour (do not burn them). Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds longer, until fragrant.

8. Pour in the combined ingredients from the bowl and stir until the sauce thickens. Return the chicken to the wok and stir vigorously to coat the pieces in sauce.

9. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve the chicken with steamed rice.

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