General Tso's chicken is a part the ‘Hunan’ cuisine or the ‘Xiang’ cuisine and derives its name from General General Tso or Zuo Zongtang who was a military officer and a Statesman. The dish holds a traditionally spicy taste with a rare sweet flavoring. The recipe for this dish is believed to have hit the New York restaurants in the early 1970s as a part of the Hunan or Szechuan type of cooking. The earliest known mentioning of the recipe dates back to 1977 in The New York Times.
Origin of General Tso's chicken
Though the dish is believed to get its name after General Tso or Zuo Zongtang of the Qing Dynasty, it’s still a mystery how or when the dish received this name. There are multiples claims over the origin of General Tso's chicken recipe. In one of the known stories, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo mentioned in her book ‘The Chinese Kitchen’ that the dish originated from a Hunan Chicken curry. The recipe also referred to ‘Zongtang’ which simply meant ‘ancestral meeting hall’ in Chinese and did not mean Zuo Zongtang’s name.
Other than the Chinese, there are claims by the Taiwanese and the New Yorkers for General Tso's chicken. According to the Taiwanese, recipe was found by a Hunan Cuisine chef of Taiwan, Peng Chang-kue. The traditional recipe was made without sugar, and Peng Chang-kue is belived to have brought alterations to the dish which made it popular in the non –Hunanese people. The Peng’s restaurant and Shun-Lee Palaces are believed to be the first New York restaurants to have introduced General Tso's chicken in the United States.
General Tso's Chicken Recipe- Method Of Preparation And Ingredients Used
This chicken is well known as a “Chef’s Specialty” in most of the Chinese restaurants across the United States. Being a Chef’s specialty dish, it is relatively higher in price. The traditional General Tso's chicken recipe demands for dark meat chicken which means the legs or the thighs. Most of the well known restaurants use boneless chicken breasts to add the flavor of the dish. The dish has gained high popularity in the Chinese buffets as well.
General Tso's Chicken- Variations
There have been variations to the General Tso's chicken recipe, General Tso's Tofu or General Tso's veg are renowned among most of the vegans, where as other meat such as beef, shrimps and pork are also used to as a substitute for chicken. There are few variations to the name of the dish as it is also known as ‘Admiral Tso’s chicken’ and ‘Pei Wei Spicy’.
Nutritional Facts of General Tso's Chicken
The dish contains protein and minerals but is also rich in fat,cholesterol, and sodium.
Trivia-General Tso's Chicken
The Taiwanese version of General Tso's chicken is hot and sour, where as the American style cooking has a sweentened flavor to it.