General Tso's chukar
A spin on the classic dish, "General Tso's chicken," using upland game birds.
By Avery Cook
Upland Game Project Leader
DWR Salt Lake Office
This preparation works well for a variety of Utah upland game birds. It's one of my favorite ways to cook up a pair of dusky grouse or a few chukars, and it turns out equally well using pheasant or ruffed grouse.
It can also be a fun meal to make in the field, especially if you prepare the sauce ahead of time. In advance, I mix the sauce in a mason jar so I just have to give it a shake and add it to the browned meat to finish the dish.
New to field dressing game birds? Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a step-by-step video.
General Tso's chukar
Serve over short-grain white or brown rice. Garnish with sesame seeds.
- 1 pound light bird breast meat (from about 2–5 birds, depending on the species and size of the birds)
- 1 tablespoon + ½ cup cornstarch (divided use)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (such as canola or vegetable oil)
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic (peeled and minced)
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Breast out birds and rinse the meat thoroughly with cool water. Cut into approximately 1 inch squares. Let drain and dry while you prepare the other ingredients; you want to get the meat as dry as possible before coating to avoid clumping. (Note: It works well to put the meat in a colander and give it a shake every few minutes. You can also speed up the process by patting the meat dry between paper towels.)
Prepare the sauce in a microwave-safe bowl or jar. Add 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons of water (a little at a time), and stir with each addition until dissolved. (If you just add the cornstarch to all of the liquid, it will clump up.) Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine, hoisin sauce and sugar. Stir. Microwave for 30 seconds to help the sugar dissolve. Stir again until all the ingredients are well combined.
Add ½ cup cornstarch to a bowl. Working in small batches, toss the cubes of meat into the cornstarch and coat evenly. Separate any pieces that get stuck together.
Add about 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok or frying pan over medium heat. The oil is hot enough when it crackles with a drop of water added. Once hot, add the meat and brown for about 4 minutes before flipping and browning the other side.
Push the meat to the outer edges of the pan and add the ginger and garlic to the center of the pan. Stir frequently to prevent sticking, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and pull the meat from the sides of the pan, stirring to evenly distribute ingredients.
Give the sauce a good stir (or shake in the mason jar) to recombine ingredients that may have settled. Keeping the pan over medium heat, pour the sauce over the spiced meat, stirring well to combine. Cook for about 1–2 minutes, until the sauce is glossy and thickened. Remove from the heat.
Serve over steamed rice and garnish with sesame seeds.
Need to dress a chukar, pheasant or grouse?
If you need help dressing your bird before you cook it, here's how. In this video I'm showing a dusky grouse, but the instructions are the same for chukar and pheasant as well.