Ok, that’s clearly a lie. I didn’t invent it. Unlike my attempt at pad thai, I tried to follow a recipe. However, with fewer than half of the required ingredients on hand I had to improvise a fair bit. The key was lots of ginger, soy sauce, sugar (to balance the salty soy sauce), and hot sauce (of both tabasco and “cock” varieties). The hard part was frying the chicken to be nice and crispy. Lots of oil, lots of heat, lots of bubbling and popping, lots of near missess and panicking.
But did it taste at all like General Tao’s chicken? It was vaguely reminiscent of it, for sure, but, like the pad thai, someone who was actually expecting the real thing (whatever that might be) and got what I made instead would have been disappointed. For me, having the craving for it that I did, it was good enough to satisfy me for at least another day. And really, that’s all that I need.