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The Chicken and the General

This photo is from my book 101 Chicken recipes availabe at http://culinarygeek.net/101.html

One of the most popular Chinese-American dishes is called General Tso’s Chicken. This is a dish that consists of chunks of fried chicken that have been mixed with a sweet, sticky, spicy and tangy sauce. Once it became popular it could be found on most Chinese food menus. The interesting thing is that you won’t find this dish on a menu in China.

The story behind this is that it was invented by Chef Peng Chang-Kuei in the 1950s. He was a banquet chef for the Chinese Nationalists. When it was right to do so the chef fled with them to Taiwan. It was there that he invented this dish. At that time it was more of a spicy Hunan dish with salty and sour tastes but not sweet. Peng opened a restaurant in Taipei and once this chicken dish became popular he moved to New York City in 1973 and opened one of the first Hunan cuisine restaurants in the U.S. Since the restaurant was close to the United Nations Henry Kissenger became a regular customer and the restaurant went on to be a success.

Then Peng decided that Americans might enjoy having some sweetness added to this chicken dish and pretty soon other Chinese chefs around the city started doing the same. This just leaves us with one question – What does General Tso have to do with all of this? Well, that is simple to explain. Peng had to find a name for this dish and the first thing that came into his mind was the legendary Hunanese General Tso Zongtang. General Tso was successful in ending many rebellions in the 19th century China. He was also from the same town as Peng.

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      • i remember my first trip to London many years ago. we had Indian food the first night. Our host suggested we go to Chinatown for our second night. The food was amazing.

        nothing, however, you would ever get in China!

        I would suspect Latvia didn’t have a huge influx of Chinese business, so the food was a luxury.

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