Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with one of the most popular Chinese-American dishes of all time – General Tso’s Chicken! This sweet and savory dish is a crowd favorite, and it’s no wonder why.
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With its crispy fried chicken, sticky sauce, and hint of heat, General Tso’s Chicken is the perfect blend of flavors and textures. Whether you’re a fan of spicy food or you prefer something a little sweeter, General Tso’s Chicken is a must-try for anyone who loves Chinese cuisine.
So, let’s dive in and discover everything you need to know about this iconic Chinese dish!
What is General Tso’s Chicken?
General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that features bite-sized pieces of crispy fried chicken tossed in a sweet and savory sauce.
The sauce is typically made with a blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and chili paste, giving it a unique flavor profile that is both spicy and sweet. The dish is often served with steamed rice and garnished with scallions or sesame seeds.
It’s worth noting that this dish is not a traditional Chinese dish and is not commonly found in China. The name and recipe for General Tso’s Chicken were created in the United States and are considered a type of American Chinese cuisine.
General Tso’s Chicken can be found on the menu at many Chinese restaurants in the United States and around the world.
History of General Tso’s Chicken
The history of General Tso’s Chicken is a bit unclear, but the dish is believed to have originated in the 1970s in New York City’s Chinatown.
It is named after a famous Chinese military leader, General Tso, who lived in the mid-19th century during the Qing Dynasty. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the general actually had anything to do with the creation of the dish.
The exact origins of General Tso’s Chicken are still debated, but it is believed that the dish was created by a Chinese immigrant chef who was inspired by Hunan cuisine. Hunan cuisine is known for its use of spicy and bold flavors, which are also prominent in General Tso’s Chicken.
The dish gained popularity in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s and has since become a staple of American Chinese cuisine.
Today, you can find General Tso’s Chicken on the menu at many Chinese restaurants in the United States and around the world.
Chinese Name of General Tso’s Chicken
The Chinese name of General Tso’s Chicken is 左宗棠鸡, pronounced as “Zuǒ zōng táng jī “.
Variation of General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken is a fairly straightforward dish, and there are not many variations on the recipe.
However, some restaurants and chefs may put their own spin on the dish by using different types of protein or adding extra ingredients to the sauce. Here are a few types of General Tso’s Chicken that you might come across:
- Chicken: The most common protein used in General Tso’s Chicken is chicken breast or thigh meat, which is cut into bite-sized pieces and then fried until crispy.
- Shrimp: Some restaurants may offer General Tso’s Shrimp, which features shrimp instead of chicken. The shrimp is typically breaded and fried before being tossed in the sauce.
- Tofu: For vegetarians or those looking for a healthier option, General Tso’s Tofu is a popular choice. The tofu is typically fried or baked before being coated in the sauce.
- Spicier version: Some restaurants may offer a spicier version of General Tso’s Chicken by adding more chili paste or red pepper flakes to the sauce.
- Healthier version: To make the dish healthier, some chefs may use less sugar or replace the deep-fried chicken with baked or grilled chicken. They may also add extra vegetables to the dish, such as broccoli or bell peppers.
General Tso’s Chicken Taste & Texture: How General Tso’s Chicken Taste Like?
General Tso’s Chicken has a distinctive sweet, savory, and slightly spicy flavor.
The dish is typically made with bite-sized pieces of fried chicken that are coated in a thick, sticky sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, and dried chili peppers. The sauce has a sweet and sour taste with a hint of spice, and it clings to the crispy chicken pieces.
The texture of General Tso’s Chicken is crunchy on the outside from the fried chicken and sticky and saucy on the inside. The sauce is thick and coats the chicken pieces, giving the dish a slightly gooey texture.
Overall, General Tso’s Chicken has a satisfying combination of textures and flavors that make it a popular dish in American Chinese cuisine.
Accompaniments & Serving of General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken is typically served as a main dish and is often accompanied by steamed rice and/or stir-fried vegetables. The rice helps to balance out the bold flavors of the sauce and chicken, while the vegetables provide a fresh and healthy contrast to the rich and savory chicken.
Here are a few popular accompaniments and serving suggestions for General Tso’s Chicken:
- Rice: White rice is the most common accompaniment for General Tso’s Chicken, but you can also use brown rice or fried rice for added texture and flavor.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, bell peppers, onions, and snow peas are all popular vegetables to serve alongside General Tso’s Chicken. They can be stir-fried with garlic and ginger to add extra flavor.
- Garnishes: Some restaurants may garnish the dish with sliced green onions or sesame seeds for added texture and presentation.
- Appetizers: General Tso’s Chicken is often served as an appetizer at Chinese restaurants, and it can be paired with other popular Chinese dishes like egg rolls, spring rolls, or crab rangoon.
- Family-style: General Tso’s Chicken is often served family-style, with a large platter of chicken in the center of the table, surrounded by bowls of rice and vegetables. This allows everyone to help themselves and creates a communal dining experience.
Ingredients for General Tso’s Chicken
The ingredients for General Tso’s Chicken typically include:
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Cornstarch, for coating the chicken
- Vegetable oil, for frying the chicken
- Garlic, minced
- Ginger, grated
- Red pepper flakes or dried chili peppers
- Rice vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Chicken broth
- Cornstarch, for thickening the sauce
- Water, for mixing with the cornstarch
- Green onions and sesame seeds, for garnish
Some recipes may also include additional ingredients such as egg, flour, baking soda, or sherry for marinating the chicken, or vegetables like broccoli or bell peppers for stir-frying with the chicken.
Tools Required to Prepare General Tso’s Chicken
The tools required to prepare General Tso’s Chicken include:
- Chef’s knife and cutting board for cutting the chicken and vegetables
- Mixing bowls for marinating the chicken and mixing the sauce
- Measuring cups and spoons for measuring the ingredients
- Wok or large frying pan for stir-frying the chicken and vegetables
- Slotted spoon or spider strainer for removing the fried chicken from the oil
- Paper towels for draining excess oil from the fried chicken
- Tongs or spatula for stirring the chicken and vegetables in the wok
- Plate or serving dish for presenting the finished dish
Optional tools may include a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is cooked to a safe temperature, and a deep-fry thermometer to monitor the oil temperature for frying the chicken.
General Tso’s Chicken Preparation and Cooking
The cooking methods for General Tso’s Chicken typically involve:
- Marinating the chicken: The chicken pieces are typically marinated in a mixture of egg, flour, baking soda, and sherry, which helps to tenderize the chicken and create a crispy coating when fried.
- Coating the chicken: The marinated chicken is coated in cornstarch, which helps to create a crispy outer layer when fried.
- Frying the chicken: The chicken is fried in vegetable oil until golden brown and crispy. The chicken can be fried in a deep fryer or in a wok or frying pan on the stovetop.
- Preparing the sauce: While the chicken is frying, the sauce ingredients are typically mixed together in a separate bowl.
- Stir-frying the sauce and chicken: Once the chicken is fried, the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes or dried chili peppers are stir-fried in a wok or frying pan. The sauce is then added to the wok and cooked until thickened. Finally, the fried chicken is added to the wok and stir-fried with the sauce until coated.
- Garnishing and serving: The finished dish is typically garnished with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, and served with rice or noodles.
Note that the exact cooking methods may vary depending on the recipe and personal preferences. Some recipes may omit the marinating step or use a different coating for the chicken, and some may bake or grill the chicken instead of frying it.
General Tso’s Chicken Recipe: How to Make General Tso’s Chicken at Home
Here is a basic recipe for making General Tso’s Chicken at home:
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- Sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish
- In a large bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the cornstarch until they are coated evenly.
- Heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken pieces in batches until they are golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chicken broth, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- In another skillet or wok, heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
- Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir to combine with the garlic and ginger mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the fried chicken pieces to the skillet and stir to coat them evenly with the sauce. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is heated through.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the skillet and stir until the sauce has thickened further, about 1-2 minutes.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
Enjoy your homemade General Tso’s Chicken with rice and stir-fried vegetables!
Tips for Making General Tso’s Chicken
Here are some tips for making General Tso’s Chicken:
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are more flavorful and juicy than chicken breasts, and are less likely to dry out when cooked.
- Cut the chicken into uniform pieces: Cutting the chicken into uniform pieces helps to ensure that they cook evenly.
- Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes: Marinating the chicken in the egg, flour, baking soda, and sherry mixture helps to tenderize the chicken and create a crispy coating when fried.
- Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature: Maintaining a consistent oil temperature of around 350°F (175°C) is key to achieving a crispy outer layer on the chicken. Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature and adjust the heat as needed.
- Drain excess oil from the chicken: Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to remove the fried chicken from the oil and transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels. This helps to drain excess oil from the chicken and keep it crispy.
- Adjust the spice level to taste: If you prefer a milder dish, you can reduce or omit the red pepper flakes or dried chili peppers in the sauce. If you like it spicy, you can add more.
- Serve immediately: General Tso’s Chicken is best served immediately after cooking, while it’s still hot and crispy.
- Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds: Sliced green onions and sesame seeds add flavor and texture to the dish, and make it look more visually appealing.
General Tso’s Chicken Nutrition
The nutritional information for General Tso’s Chicken can vary depending on the recipe and the serving size. Here is a general breakdown of the nutritional information for a typical serving size of General Tso’s Chicken:
- Calories: 400-600
- Fat: 20-40g
- Carbohydrates: 30-50g
- Protein: 25-35g
- Sodium: 800-1500mg
The high calorie and sodium content in General Tso’s Chicken is due to the deep frying and the sauce, which is typically high in sugar and sodium.
To make a healthier version of General Tso’s Chicken, you can bake or air fry the chicken instead of deep frying, and use a sauce that is lower in sugar and sodium. Additionally, you can serve it with brown rice and steamed vegetables to add more fiber and nutrients to the meal.
Reheating The General Tso’s Chicken
Reheating General Tso’s Chicken can be done in a few different ways depending on your preference. Here are some options:
- Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spread the General Tso’s Chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet and cover it with aluminum foil. Heat the chicken in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s heated through and crispy.
- Microwave: Place the General Tso’s Chicken in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a damp paper towel or microwave-safe lid. Heat the chicken in the microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it’s heated through.
- Stovetop: Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the General Tso’s Chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it’s heated through and crispy.
No matter which method you choose, make sure to check that the chicken is heated through before serving. It’s also a good idea to add a little bit of water or sauce to the chicken before reheating to prevent it from drying out. Enjoy your delicious General Tso’s Chicken!
How to Eat General Tso’s Chicken: The Right Way
General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that is enjoyed by many people. Here are some tips on how to eat it the right way:
- Use chopsticks: General Tso’s Chicken is traditionally eaten with chopsticks. If you’re not familiar with using chopsticks, you can practice beforehand or ask for a fork.
- Balance flavors: General Tso’s Chicken is a sweet and spicy dish. Make sure to balance the flavors by pairing the chicken with a plain or steamed rice. This will help to neutralize the spiciness and bring out the sweetness.
- Start with a small portion: General Tso’s Chicken is a rich dish, so start with a small portion and pace yourself. This will help you enjoy the dish without overwhelming your taste buds.
- Enjoy the texture: General Tso’s Chicken is known for its crispy texture. Take your time to savor the crunchiness of the chicken before swallowing it.
- Add extra spice: If you prefer your General Tso’s Chicken spicier, you can add some chili oil or red pepper flakes to the dish. Be sure to start with a small amount, so you don’t overwhelm the flavor.
- Use a napkin: General Tso’s Chicken is often served in a sweet and sticky sauce, so be sure to use a napkin to wipe your hands and mouth as needed.
- Share with others: General Tso’s Chicken is a great dish to share with friends or family. You can order several dishes and try them all together. This way, you can enjoy a variety of flavors and textures while also sharing the experience with others.
Where To Eat The Best General Tso’s Chicken?
The United States has many great Chinese restaurants where you can find delicious General Tso’s Chicken. Here are some popular options:
- Joe’s Shanghai (New York City, NY): Joe’s Shanghai is a famous Chinese restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown that serves authentic and delicious General Tso’s Chicken.
- Hunan Slurp (New York City, NY): Hunan Slurp is a modern Chinese restaurant that offers a unique twist on General Tso’s Chicken, with the chicken served on skewers with chili oil and sesame seeds.
- Pine & Crane (Los Angeles, CA): Pine & Crane is a popular Taiwanese restaurant in Los Angeles that serves a flavorful and crispy version of General Tso’s Chicken.
- Koi Palace (Daly City, CA): Koi Palace is a high-end Cantonese restaurant that serves a delicious and refined version of General Tso’s Chicken.
- Little Szechuan (St. Paul, MN): Little Szechuan is a family-owned restaurant in St. Paul that serves authentic Szechuan cuisine, including a spicy and flavorful General Tso’s Chicken.
- P.F. Chang’s (Various Locations): P.F. Chang’s is a popular chain restaurant that serves a more Americanized version of General Tso’s Chicken, but it’s still a delicious option for those who enjoy the dish.
These are just a few of the many great options for finding the best General Tso’s Chicken in the United States. It’s always a good idea to read reviews and ask locals for recommendations when trying to find the best Chinese restaurant in your area.
What is the Price of General Tso’s Chicken?
The price of General Tso’s Chicken can vary depending on the restaurant, location, and portion size.
In general, the price of a serving of General Tso’s Chicken can range from $8 to $20, depending on whether it’s a lunch or dinner portion, the type of restaurant, and the location. Fast-food chains or takeout restaurants may have lower prices than sit-down restaurants that serve higher-quality ingredients.
It’s always a good idea to check the menu and prices before ordering to ensure that the dish fits your budget. Additionally, prices may be higher in tourist areas or big cities compared to smaller towns or rural areas.
FAQ for General Tso’s Chicken
Here are some frequently asked questions about General Tso’s Chicken:
What is General Tso’s Chicken?
General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish made with fried chicken that is coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. It is typically served with rice and vegetables.
Is General Tso’s Chicken Chinese or American?
General Tso’s Chicken is a dish that was created in the United States and is not commonly found in China. It is an Americanized version of traditional Chinese cuisine.
Is General Tso’s Chicken spicy?
Yes, General Tso’s Chicken is typically spicy, but the level of spice can vary depending on the recipe and the restaurant. Some versions may be mild, while others may be very spicy.
Is General Tso’s Chicken healthy?
General Tso’s Chicken is not generally considered a healthy dish because it is fried and coated in a sugary sauce. However, it can be made healthier by using baked chicken and a sauce made with less sugar and sodium.
Is General Tso’s Chicken gluten-free?
General Tso’s Chicken is not gluten-free because it is typically made with flour to coat the chicken. However, some restaurants may offer a gluten-free version of the dish made with alternative flours.
What are some variations of General Tso’s Chicken?
Some variations of General Tso’s Chicken include using shrimp, tofu, or vegetables instead of chicken. Some recipes also add additional spices or ingredients, such as ginger, garlic, or honey.
What is the origin of General Tso’s Chicken?
The origin of General Tso’s Chicken is unclear, but it is believed to have been created by Chinese chefs who worked in Chinese-American restaurants in the United States in the mid-20th century. The dish is named after a 19th-century Chinese military leader, but it is not clear why.
General Tso’s Chicken: One of the Best Chinese Foods in The World
In conclusion, General Tso’s Chicken is a delicious and popular dish that has become a staple of Chinese-American cuisine.
With its crispy fried chicken and sweet and spicy sauce, it’s no wonder that this dish has won the hearts of many food lovers around the world. Whether you prefer it mild or spicy, with chicken or tofu, there are countless variations of General Tso’s Chicken to try and enjoy.
So if you’re in the mood for some tasty Chinese-American cuisine, be sure to order a plate of General Tso’s Chicken and savor its bold and flavorful taste!