This meal can be called classic, and its name refers to Chinese cuisine and looks like something ancient and traditional. Meet General Tso chicken, one of the most popular chicken dishes around the world. And besides, General Tso's chicken is a dish which is full of legends and secrets. Let’s discover some facts about it and consider what is true in its story, and what is just a legend.
The Legend and Reality: Why Is It Named General Tso Chicken
General Tso chicken is a quintessence of sweet-spicy tastes and that taste is called umami. Fried and then stir-fried chicken pieces in a special battering served with chilly-veiled sauce became a real must-try in the US. It seems obvious that the roots of this meal are in China, but this is only half of the truth.
General Tso Chicken was called so under the name of a real person, General Tso Tsung T'ang who lived and ruled the Hunan province in China at the beginning of the XIX century. Yet, neither Tso Tsungtang nor his ancestors didn’t know about this dish.
Who created it then? Opinions are diverse enough.
- According to one of the investigations, General Tso's chicken was simply brought to the US by Chinese relocants who moved to America for a better life. The recipe is based on traditional Hunanese cooking principles – that’s how in the Hunan province chicken was cooked for centuries.
- Another legend is that General Tso's chicken was created personally by Peng Chang-Kuei, the cook who served dishes to Chinese dictator Chiang Kai-shek. He flew to Taiwan with the dictator in 1949, and there he cooked this chicken dish for a dinner where an American Navy Forces admiral tasted it. The dish was a success, thus, Peng Chang-Kuei decided to make it a star of his restaurant menu. Firstly, he started his restaurant in Taipei and then moved to New York in 1973.
- There is one more legend about General Tso's chicken creation. New York restaurant Shuun Lee Palaces also claims to be an inventor of this dish. According to its owner, Michael Tong, his chef T.T. Wang brought the recipe of General Tso chicken when immigrated to the US in 1972 and started to cook it in Shuun Lee Palaces.
Be it as is, General Tso chicken has no relation to the Chinese general but it is loved by thousands of gourmets around the world.
The Basic Recipe and Its Variations
Besides, do you know that the recipe of General Tso chicken also has some variations – as this happens with lots of other cult meals?
The basic recipe consists of chicken meat diced and fried in the battering of cornstarch and egg. Then fried dice are stir-fried in the sauce of garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, hot peppers, and sesame seeds. The result acquires an intense sweet-sour and spicy taste and rich odor. As usual, General Tso chicken is served with rice or vegetables.
Yet, there are lots of variations and they emerged from the very start of General Tso chicken’s invasion in the restaurants. Just consider that in its motherland, Hunan, this recipe was not appreciated and it was considered too sweet. Thus, today they cook this dish with less sweetness. In Taiwan, a local variety of General Tso chicken is cooked with chicken skin while in America, diced chicken is skinless.
Besides, some additional ingredients often are added:
- Rice wine;
So, you can taste numerous variations of this dish even in the same area.
General Tso Chicken in Facts
Now let’s highlight some facts about General Tso chicken which can add some new edges to the whole concept.
- Due to the rich combo of spices and seasoning, General Tso chicken is good for digestion. It evokes appetite and nourishes good. It is especially good for cold-season dining due to the warming hot peppers and ginger in its recipe.
- General Tso chicken doesn’t belong to traditional Chinese cuisine, it is a part of Chinese-American cuisine and cooking traditions.
- It is remarkable that the politician Henry Kissinger was an appreciator of General Tso chicken and a long-lasting client of Peng Chang-kuei’s restaurant.
- In 2014, a documentary was filmed about General Tso Tsungtang and the dish named after him was also an important part of the film.
Today, General Tso chicken is a part of American cuisine. You can try it in numerous local restaurants. Or, if you want to taste it with comfort and get the healthiest General Tso chicken for your dinner, you are welcome to get it from our meal prep and delivery service.