ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

General Tso's Chicken: Things You Might Not Know About the Chinese Dish

Updated on March 3, 2020
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks is a health-conscious person who researches the health benefits of foods and drinks.


Thousands of Americans eat General Tso's chicken because it is one of the most popular dishes on the Chinese restaurant's menu. The delicious dish contains deep-fried chicken chunks that have been coated with ginger, garlic, sesame oil, scallions, and hot chili peppers.

All of that makes for a good dish. Who was General Tso, and why is a Chinese-American chicken dish named after him?

Who Was General Tso?

General Tso Tsungtang never ate the dish named after him. He was born on November 10, 1812, and died on September 5, 1885, long before the dish was invented.

The military officer served during China's greatest civil war and was said to be a very ruthless leader.

Why the Food Is Called General Tso's Chicken

Why is a food name after a man who never ate it? Food writer Fuscia Dunlop wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2007 that the dish was invented by a chef named Peng Chang-kuei in the 1950s in Taiwan.

At that time Peng's invention was a traditional Hunanese spicy, salty, and sour. It wasn’t sweet at all, but the dish was a hit at his restaurant in Taipei. In 1973, Peng moved to New York City and opened one of the first Hunanese restaurants in America on 44th Street. Because it was new to the area, Chef Peng offered the dish as a house special to get more people to try it. Once they did, they fell in love with it.

Peng's restaurant was close to the United Nations headquarters, and he received a lot of business from politicians who became regular customers, including Henry Kissinger who helped make the restaurant a success.

About General Tso's Chicken

The popular chicken dish is made of sweet and spicy chunks of deep-fried chicken tossed in a sweet, sticky, spicy, and tangy sauce. The ingredients are used in many other stir-fry Chinese dishes. It's considered to be a poor man's dish instead of a feast fit for a king.

While the dish is popular in Chinese restaurants in North America, surprisingly it is hard to find in restaurants in China.


General Tso's Chicken Today

Peng used his culinary skills to transform the dish into one that would appeal more to American palates of the time. It became so popular that chefs all around the country began to copy his recipe.

Up until that time, Peng had not named his famous dish. It had become popular without a name. When the chef decided to finally name it, Peng said there was no rhyme or reason why he named his dish General Tso's chicken. He said that was the first name that just popped into his head. It was probably because the general and Peng were from the same town.

During the 1950s when Peng first invented the dish, it was nothing like the version most Americans know. Today, the dish is a sweet, crispy dish that is in almost every Chinese restaurant in North America. If you go to a Chinese restaurant and the dish is not on the menu, then go to another restaurant.

General Tso's Chicken On a Bed of Rice
General Tso's Chicken On a Bed of Rice | Source

For the Health Conscious

General Tso's chicken is usually served with a tangy sweet and sour sauce. The dish is very delicious when served over rice along with crunchy steamed broccoli.

A standard serving of four ounces of the dish has 1,300 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat and 3,200 mg. of sodium. The good news is that the calories are only half your daily allowance, and the fat is 70-80 percent of your fat allowance. The bad news is that the sodium is twice your daily sodium allowance. Most people do not eat the entire container of the meal at once. Instead, the split it up into two meals for lunch and dinner or for a meal another day.

Do you eat General Tso's chicken?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      21 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Leland, I treated myself to General Tso's chicken today. It was so delicious and enough for a second helping later this evening.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      21 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Jan Michael Ong, I love finding out tidbits about foods. General Tso's chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. So, I wanted to know how it got its name, only to discover that it was named after the general long after his death. Therefore, Tso never ate the dish named in his honor,

    • Jan Michael Ong profile image

      Jan Michael Ong 

      21 months ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      General Tso is actually a real person. Nice to know about the dish from a historical perspective.

    • Leland Johnson profile image

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      Margaret- General Tso's chicken is far and away my favorite Chinese dish. Poor General Tso...I wonder if he knew history would know him for an association with delicious chicken rather than military exploits? I had to look away from the photos because they were making me hungry ;) I enjoyed this article. It was well written, fun, and informative like all your articles.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)