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General Tso's Chicken = Orange Chicken?

Is General Tso's Chicken simply another name for the ubiquitous orange chicken (most likely popularized to the masses by Panda Express)?

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  1. I'm assuming you missed Fuchsia Dunlop's General Tso tour-de-force in the NY Times Dining this week? http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/mag...

    1 Reply
    1. re: frenetica

      Yeah, I did see that article, which is what piqued my interest.

    2. Not exactly, but they're very similar U.S.-style Chinese dishes. They're both deep-fried chicken in a sweet sauce, but General Tso's is usually spicier with whole chiles, and Orange Chicken sauce is made with orange peel.

      1. Where did the fried orange chicken come from? Years ago, the only orange chicken I could find (in the Baltimore/DC/NoVa area) was sauteed tender chunks of chicken with orange peels and snow peas or broccoli. I was seriously bummed the first time I ordered orange chicken and it came as those horrid greasy fried lumps. Ick.

        1. According to a Wikipedia article, yes.


          More deep thoughts on the the General's chicken (which pulled rank on the Colonel's, aparently) can be found at:




          1. We all know how relaible Wikipedia is. From my experience in NYC neighborhood places, the General is spicier and contains whole chillis and Orange chicken contains stir fried orange peels. They are similar but different. this is one dish that is almost always terrible, but in the rare instances it is good, it is really good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MVNYC

              Yeah, Wikipedia is the product of the likes of you and me; it's about as reliable as Chowhound posts.

            2. You will if you order General Tso's tofu! (Kidding!)

              2 Replies
              1. re: lvecch

                That actually sounds good to me . . . I must be a little nuts.

                1. re: operagirl

                  I'll stick with General Chou doufu, if you don't mind.

              2. You're not, it's great!

                1. In case you missed it, America's Test Kitchen (the PBS Show) made Orange Chicken a week or so ago, and discussed the techniques for good and gloppy chicken pieces and not too cloying sauce.

                  1. General Tso's chicken and orange chicken are very similar, except orange chicken is sweeter and actually uses orange zest to flavor, while general tso's adds hot chile peppers. Let's remember though that both these dishes are Americanized chinese dishes that did not exist until the 70s by Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants who discovered the American palette enjoyed fried foods and sweet tangy sauces.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GurglingStomach

                      Actually, you're almost correct. General Tso chicken was created in Taiwan in the 1950's by a Chinese ex-pat. The original dish was true to Hunan cooking, and was not sweet. It was following a move to New York in the 1970's that this same chef re-invented it for the American palate. There was an interesting article about this last week in the New York Times.


                    2. and if you add sesame chicken (sweeter yet) you get a trio.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mimolette

                        In most take out places it seems like sesame chicken is just General Tso's with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

                        1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                          very possibly. From what I have seen, sesame chicken's sauce is lighter in color and more syrupy, like honey, and usually not spicy or less so than Tso's.

                          1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                            NY Chinese takeout math

                            (General Tso - Hot Chili) + Sesame Seeds = Sesame Chicken

                            Sesame Chicken - Sesame Seeds +(Bitter Orange Peel + Hot Chili) = Orange Chicken

                          2. re: mimolette

                            There's a place where I live that serves sesame chicken sauceless - pretty much like mar far chicken, but with sesame seeds in the batter. Comes with cocktail sauce and mustard.

                          3. Orange chicken is probably derived from orange (or actually tangerine) beef, a Hunan dish involving very thinnly sliced beef, battered and deep fried (the best versions are apparently so thin one could see through them). The sauce is flavoured with dried tangerine peel (not zest).

                            1. Many years ago, I was quite a regular at this American-Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn. The waiter told me that the sauce bases for General Tso's, Sesame and Orange are the same except that the General Tso's had more chili, orange had orange peel, and sesame had sesame seeds.