general tso’s actifry chicken

Isn’t it strange how two Western cultures can create their own version of the same imported cuisine? “Moo shu beef”, “egg rolls”, “crab rangoon”… What are these odd things? They’re found on menus of most Chinese takeaways (sorry,”takeout”) in America. Yet in the UK they’re completely alien. In my limited understanding, immigrants of different areas started these restaurants on different sides of the Atlantic and imported their food, Westernised: in the US, Hunan-influenced culture settled; in the UK Cantonese-style food dominated. General Tso’s chicken is one of these American staples, as I found out reading this recipe on Serious Eats. What is this? And why does it look so darn tasty?!

general tso chicken

Copyright: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

I’ll read just about any article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. They’re packed with excellent research, brilliant recipes and infectious enthusiasm. But the photo of this one drew me in. I knew straight away it was going to taste good, and I had to try it.

His comparison to chicken tikka masala is bang on – a dish that has become the representative dish of that cuisine, though natives have never heard of it!

Whatever the derivation, it’s crunchy chicken in a tangy-sweet sauce. It’s closest cousin on an English Chinese menu (if you follow my train of thought) is crispy chilli shredded beef.

dry coated chicken dried in the fridge

chicken drying out in the fridge

I didn’t fancy breaking out the deep fat fryer so adapted the recipe for the Actifry. The fridge-drying phase is important – if you leave the chicken damp from batter it will slide straight off in the Actifry. The drying out allows the coating to properly adhere to the meat. It turned out brilliantly. The chicken was crisp yet juicy, the sauce was sticky, sharp and tangy, the whole thing comes together perfectly.

I think I’m going to go pester my local Chinese to add this to the menu.

Based on a recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats, tweaked and abused for my tastebuds

general tso's chicken cooked in the tefal actifry
general tso’s actifry chicken
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general tso's chicken cooked in the tefal actifry
general tso’s actifry chicken
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. For the marinade: whisk egg white lightly in a large bowl, then whisk in the soy and Mirin. Set aside half of marinade for the dry coat. Add the soda and cornflour to one half of it and whisk to combine. Add chicken to large bowl and stir to coat thoroughly.
  2. For the dry coat: whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add the reserved marinade and whisk until mixture has looks like breadcrumbs. Press the chicken into this mixture and shake off the excess. Place on a rack over a tray and place in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Turn the Actifry on for 2 minutes to heat up. Add a tablespoon of oil and heat for a further minute. Add the chicken and cook for five minutes, then go in with some tongs to help separate some of the chicken pieces that may have stuck together. Cook for a further 25 - 30 minutes, until crisp and at least 68C on the inside.
  4. Five minutes before the chicken is ready, fry the garlic, ginger, and onions in a frying pan over a medium heat. Combine soy sauce, wine, vinegar, stock, sugar, sesame seed oil, and cornflour in a small bowl and stir with a fork until dissolved and no lumps remain. Stir the sauce into the onions etc until it boils and thickens. Add the chicken and fold with a rubber spatula until all pieces are thoroughly coated. Serve with rice and mixed vegetables.
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  • I’ve always noticed the different between Chinese take out in the states and over here, really interesting – i mean , whats ‘lo mein’? looks like chow mein to me!

    I was in Boston once and had my lunch from a ‘food court’ type place – it was labelled as ‘general chicken’ – which amused me, what on earth did that mean (i’d not heard of general tso chicken at that point) – i decided to go with that as it amused me and it was so so so nice, very very sweet (i usually went for bourbon chicken, another staple at the food courts but no where to be seen here) and i really enjoyed it – i tried to find out what it was, but only found general tso chicken and that has a spice to it and this def did not have that. I’d love to have it again but i reckon i’d have to go back to Boston to get it (unlikely…)

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