You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~The Chinese-American General Tso's Chicken Story~

IMG_5195General Tso's Chicken is a staple on every Chinese-Americane eat-in and take-out menu.  I personally am grateful for that, as, every week or two I crave Chinese fare and rare is the occasion when sweet, savory and spicy General Tso's Chicken is not a part of my order. Sometimes I eat it with some chicken fried rice and steamed broccoli as a main course, other times I eat it as an appetizer or a snack, but, eat it I do -- it's addicting and I adore it.

The basic ingredients are easy-to-find & indeed basic:

IMG_5193The basic ingredients of General Tso's Chicken are indeed basic: dark chicken meat, shallots, rice wine vinegar, hot peppers, garlic and ginger.  The chicken pieces are breaded then deep-fried, then coated with a thick-ish slightly-sweet and spicy sauce.  The sauce, a bit more complicated, contains, water, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic and ginger.  The dish (mostly the sauce), varies depending on the cook or chef preparing it, meaning, creative license is usually taken to place the emphasis on sweet vs. spicy and vice versa.

The General Tso's legend & the real General Tso's story:

Legend has it this spicy dish is named after Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885), a Qing Dynasty military leader and statesman, who lived with his wife in Xiangyin County the province of Hunan.  It's said that the general's wife created the dish for him upon his return from a great battle, with the dish consequently becoming a favorite of his, which in turn got passed along to others in the local community and gained in popularity throughout Hunan province.  Unfortunately, there is no recorded connection of the dish to either the Province or to him, and, Zuo's descendants, who are still living in Xiangyin County, claim they've never heard of it.  That said, the legend is fun to know.

In actuality, this spicy dish was likely invented by Taiwanese Hunan-cuisine chef Peng Chang-Kuei, an apprentice to chef Cao Jingchen, a leading early 20th-Century Chinese chef.  Peng became and worked as the Chinese Nationalist Government's banquet chef, until he fled back to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War.  There he continued his career as the government's official chef until 1973, when he moved to New York City to open Peng's Restaurant on East 44th Street, where Peng made his newly created dish (made from commonplace ingredients), General Tso's Chicken, the house specialty.  A 1977 restaurant review of Pengs, mention's" "the General Tso's Chicken was a stir-fried masterpiece, sizzling hot both in flavor and temperature." 

General Tso's Chicken -- a stir-fried masterpiece -- sweet, savory & sizzling hot both in flavor & temperature.

IMG_5191"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment