3/4 cup Chinkiang vinegar (or rice wine, or balsamic vinegar) (*footnote 1)
1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, or Japanese sake, or stock)
1/2 cup light soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari) (*footnote 2)
1/4 cup dark soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari) (*footnote 2)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Chicken or vegetable stock (Add right before using the sauce)
Mix all the ingredients except the stock in a jar and shake to combine. Every time before you use the sauce, shake well to dissolve all the cornstarch. Pour 1/3 cup sauce into a bowl and add 1/3 cup stock (it can be either chicken stock, vegetarian stock, or water). Mix well again right before pouring into the pan.
You can store the sauce in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.
(1) Chinkiang vinegar is highly recommended in this recipe. But if you do not have it, use rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead. If you want to create gluten-free sauce, use one of the alternative too. Chinkiang vinegar contains wheat bran. Wheat bran itself does not contain gluten but has a high risk of cross contamination.
(2) You can use soy sauce to replace the light soy sauce and the dark soy sauce alternatively. Use tamari to create gluten-free sauce.
How to use the sauce
To use the sauce, simply shake it and cook with aromatics until it thickens.
Assuming that you are going to cook 2 servings, that can be 450 grams (1 pound) protein, or 6 to 8 cups vegetables, or 220 grams (1/2 pound) protein and 3 cups vegetables.
You will need 1/4 to 1/3 cup sauce.
(1) Pick 1 to 2 aromatics. Prep according to the list below.
General Tso sauce is very pungent and always benefits from more herbs. Garlic and dried chili pepper are the two common aromatics that are used in most General Tso sauces. You can use the others on the list as well. But adding one pungent herb, such as ginger or garlic, is highly recommended.
Ginger – 1 large piece minced (yields 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon)
Garlic – 3 to 4 cloves, minced
Green onion – 4 to 6 green onions, coarsely chopped
Dried chili pepper – 2 to 4 peppers, torn into 3 to 4 pieces. (Or, keep whole for less spiciness.)
Shallot or onion – 1 big shallot or 1/2 onion, thinly sliced or diced. (It taste better when combined with another more potent herb, such as ginger or garlic.)
(2) Choose and cut the protein.
Beef (flank steak or short ribs) – thinly sliced (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick), or cut to strips
Chicken (skinless boneless breast or thigh) – Diced to 1-inch pieces, or sliced to 1/4-inch thick
Pork (tenderloin or loin) – thinly slice (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick), or cut to strips
Shrimps – peeled and deveined
Tofu (firm or extra firm) – Diced to 1/2 to 2/3 inch pieces
(3) Marinate and prep the protein.
For each pound of meat or seafood, mix with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or peanut oil), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Let it marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.
To create a crispy restaurant-style chicken, learn this method so you can achieve the goal without deep-frying.
For tofu, marinate with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon syrup (or honey) for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and coat with a thin layer of cornstarch. See this post to learn how to cook crispy tofu without deep-frying.
(4) Cut and prep the vegetables
To make a quick dinner, my favorite way is to only use one type of vegetable. You can use two, but no more.
Asparagus – Chopped to 1-inch pieces
Baby bok choy – Tear off large leaves and halve lengthwise, halve or quarter the rest
Bell peppers – Sliced or chopped
Broccoli (fresh) – Divide to small florets; steam or blanch (see Omnivore’s Cookbook to learn how to blanch the broccoli quickly in the same stir fry pan)
Broccoli (frozen) – Microwave for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on the quantity), so the broccoli is thawed and luke warm, but not heated up
Brussels sprouts – Roasted (see Omnivore’s Cookbook for how to roast Brussels sprouts)
Cabbage – Coarsely chopped
Cauliflower (fresh) – Divide to small florets; steam, blanch, or roast
Cauliflower (frozen) – Microwave for 2 to 4 minutes (for stir fry), or roast (see Omnivore’s Cookbook to learn how to crisp up frozen cauliflowers in the oven)
Carrot – Sliced into pieces or strips (by using a julienne peeler); or cut to chunk and roast
Celery – Sliced or diced
Eggplant – sliced (see Omnivore’s Cookbook to learn how to prep eggplant so it crisps up during stir frying)
Green peas (fresh or frozen)
Kale – Stalk chopped to small pieces, leaves coarsely chopped
Onion – Sliced
Zucchini – Seeded and sliced
(5) Make a stir fry (see Omnivore’s Cookbook) or use on steamed or baked food.