When it comes to chicken, Michelle takes a dim view of dark meat. She admits the flavor is better than breast meat, especially from our local birds. But the lurking presence of fascia, tendons, cartilage and other “icky” pieces of non-contiguous chicken flesh always give her pause. Chicken thigh meat is one of the metrics Michelle uses to rate Asian restaurants (“This will tell the tale,” she reportedly once said while cutting into a piece of deep-fried Chinese restaurant chicken and has been teased about it for years since), the lack of ligament or other “not meat” stuff a reflection of the restaurant’s quality. Of course, this standard means that prepping thighs at home takes more time than just chopping breasts, but recently we found this Fuchsia Dunlop recipe for General Tso’s chicken worth the effort.
We usually avoid this dish when eating out; Steve from office-lunch-place-induced boredom and Michelle from the aforementioned fear of ickiness. But faced with a frozen package of thighs and most of the right ingredients (confession: Gourmandistan has only a hazy understanding of the difference between “light” and “dark” soy sauce, usually interpreting the combined amount as “soy sauce”), we decided to give General Tso a go. In her Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Dunlop details two versions of this classic dish: “Taiwan” and “Changsha.” We chose the Taipei take after reading it “lacks the sweetness of the Americanized version” while the Changsha more mimicked the take-out Steve grew so tired of.
General Tso—indeed, a tale well told.