Posts Tagged ‘the search for general tso’

You find it everywhere, on virtually every Chinese restaurant menu and behind just about every supermarket deli counter. It’s a staple of what Americans call Chinese food: General Tso’s Chicken.

Recently, I watched The Search for General Tso, a documentary that searches for the origins of this ubiquitous dish. From it, I learned that this concoction is about as Chinese as chop suey. While it was indeed created by Hunan chef C.K. Peng in Taipei, and while it carries the name of the famous Hunan general Zuo Zongtang, it has been so Americanized as to be nearly unrecognizable. It’s sweeter. It’s milder. It’s festooned with scallions and mixed with steamed broccoli.

Naturally, I took this as a challenge. I like the American version just fine, but would I like the original version better? Even factoring in my bias toward traditional ethnic food, the answer is an unmitigated “Yes!”

On balance, I find Chinese cuisine intimidating. There is usually a lot of prep-work and I’m not well-educated as to what many of the ingredients are. This recipe, though, has ingredients that are familiar and easy to find, and the recipe itself is easy if you break it into three basic steps: Cook the meat, make the sauce, mix.

See? Easy peasy. (more…)

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