Sous Vide General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken is arguably one of the most famous Chinese dishes here in North America. Crispy fried chicken in a sticky sauce with the perfect combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. We’re going to make this chicken with the sous vide to ensure the perfect texture inside and out.

Fun fact: Carmen has never heard of General Tso’s Chicken until moving to North America

Carmen was lucky enough to meet the inventor of the dish Chef Peng Chang-Kuei. Funny story, he had no idea he was walking into an interview. His son didn’t let him know and just told him to come to the restaurant. Chef Peng was a humble man, all he wanted to do was to pass on his love of chinese food and cooking. Born in 1918 in China, Hunan province, he was once the chef of Chiang Kai-Shek then immigrated to the US in the 70s to spread Chinese cuisine. The story goes that he made General Tso’s Chicken for a state dinner knowing that Westerners would prefer chicken over the usual Chinese “delicacies”. The dish was a hit. Mr. Peng passed away a few years ago at the age of 98, but his legacy lives on. 

Chef Peng clinking glasses with Henry Kissinger

We’re recreating this dish using sous vide chicken breast. What? Chicken breast? Yes. chicken breast. Those of you who know us, know that we rarely (read as never) buy chicken breast. It’s just too finicky, and we HATE dry meat. Honestly, this was actually our first time using chicken breast. Using the sous vide we should be able to get perfectly cooked, tender chicken breast to go with our sauce. If you’re not sold, you can always go with the traditional chicken thighs with the same method, but sous vide at 155F for 2 hours instead. 

We were also trying a new method today, we found this on one of the Facebook groups (Also, if you haven’t already, join our Kind of Cooking Facebook group!) where someone used cornstarch directly in the bag before sous viding and skipped the dredging stage. Well, this method worked out great! The chicken was perfectly cooked, and we didn’t have to deal with the mess of dredging … wet hand, dry hand, but we all know that they both just become crusted hands in the end. We’re probably going to this method for our Korean Fried Chicken and Chicken Pakora in the future. Since the chicken is already cooked, you’ll want to chill it before going to the fryer. This gives you those extra minutes to get the right amount of brown and crust without over cooking. The frying process took about 2 mins. Another thing to keep in mind is to fry in batches. You don’t want to over fill the fryer and bring down the temperature of the oil. Try to keep them apart so they don’t stick together when frying. 

Add enough cornstarch to fully coat the chicken and then more.

The sauce is relatively simple and comes together very quickly. A few tips to keep in mind, when adding in the cornstarch slurry to turn down the heat, this avoids clumping and gloopy sauces. The flavors and the aromas that come from the sauce are amazing. Try not to choke when frying the chillis though. 

We were very happy with the outcome of the dish. The sauce goes so well with rice. We found ourselves going back for bowl after bowl. The chicken breast wasn’t dry at all using the sous vide. Hehe it was fried chicken, so what’s not to love about it.

Sweet, sour, savoury, and spicy – what’s not to love?

Sous Vide Gereral Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken is arguably one of the most famous Chinese dishes here in North America. Crispy fried chicken in a sticky sauce with the perfect combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: chicken, chicken recipe, chinese recipe, general tsos chicken

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 Chicken Breasts skinless
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • ½ tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing Wine
  • ¾ cup Cornstarch

Sauce

  • 2 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Ginger minced
  • 2 Scallion Whites
  • 6-10 Dried Chilies
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing Wine
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dark Soy
  • 1 tbsp Chinkiang Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Chicken Stock or Water
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  • Set sous vide to 145F (63C)
  • Slice the chicken into 1 inch cubes.
  • Place into a bag, along with soy sauce, sesame oil, and cooking wine. Give it a good mix to coat all the chicken.
  • Pour the cornstarch and mix well. Ensure that all the chicken is coated. There will be extra cornstarch in the bag.
  • Vacuum seal or using the water displacement method, close the bag. Try to have the chicken in a single layer.
  • Place into the water bath for 2 hours.
  • Remove from the water bath once the time is up, and place into an ice bath for a few mins to quickly chill.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom cast iron skillet, dutch oven, wok, or other frying device. Ensure that there’s enough oil to fry the chicken, but do not overfill. Heat the oil to between  375F (190C) and 400 (205C)
  • Each piece of chicken should be fully coated in cornstarch. Work in batches so that the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much. Carefully drop in the chicken one piece at a time, stir occasionally so that they don’t stick together. Fry until a nice golden brown is achieved. This will take about 2 mins. Remove the chicken once colour is achieved, and cool on a wire rack. Make sure the oil comes back to temperature before adding in subsequent batches.
  • As the chicken cools, warm a wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add in a splash of oil, scallion, ginger, garlic, and chillies. Stir fry until fragrant.
  • Once fragrant, add in soy sauce, shaoxing cooking wine, oyster sauce, black vinegar, and sugar. Bring that mixture to a boil.
  • Mix the chicken stock or water into the cornstarch to make a slurry. Turn down the heat, and stir the slurry into the sauce. Bring the heat back up and the mixture to a boil. Stop once you achieve the desired thickness for the sauce. It should be thick enough to coat a spoon and not gloopy. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the chicken to the sauce and coat well.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds or scallions.

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