Tong Cho Chicken vs. General Tso Chicken: What’s the Difference?

Tong Cho Chicken vs. General Tso Chicken: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, there are countless dishes to choose from, each with its unique blend of flavors and ingredients. Two of the most popular dishes are Tong Cho Chicken and General Tso Chicken. While both dishes are chicken-based and have a similar appearance, they differ in their sauce’s flavor, texture, and spiciness.

General Tso Chicken is a Chinese-American takeout classic that originated in Hunan Province, China. It is a deep-fried chicken dish that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The sauce is tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy, made with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers. In contrast, Tong Cho Chicken has a simpler sauce made with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and scallions. The sauce is less sweet and tangy than General Tso’s sauce and has a milder taste.

While both dishes are delicious, choosing between Tong Cho Chicken and General Tso Chicken depends on your personal preference for a sweeter, tangier sauce or a more savory, soy sauce-based flavor. It’s worth trying both dishes to determine which one you prefer. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between these two popular dishes and help you decide which one to order the next time you’re at a Chinese restaurant.

Comparison Table

CriteriaTong Cho ChickenGeneral Tso Chicken
OriginNative to Sichuan, ChinaChinese-American dish
Sauce flavorSoy sauce-based with a salt-focused flavorSweet, tangy, and slightly spicy
TextureTender and juicy chicken with a light sauceDeep-fried chicken with a sticky glaze
Heat levelMild to mediumMedium to hot
PopularityLess popular than General Tso’s chickenVery popular in Chinese-American cuisine

History and Origin

Tong Cho Chicken

Tong Cho Chicken is a dish that originated in China, specifically in the Shandong province. The dish is named after a famous general named Tong Cho, who was known for his military prowess and his love of food. The dish is made by marinating chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, and ginger, and then stir-frying it with vegetables such as carrots, onions, and green peppers. The result is a savory and flavorful dish that is perfect for any occasion.

General Tso Chicken

General Tso Chicken is a dish that has become a staple of Chinese-American cuisine. The dish is named after General Tso, a famous military leader from the Hunan province of China. However, the dish as it is known in the United States today bears little resemblance to the original dish that was served in China. In fact, the dish was created in the United States by Chinese immigrants who were looking to create a dish that would appeal to American tastes.

The dish is made by deep-frying chicken that has been coated in a mixture of cornstarch and egg, and then stir-frying it with a sweet and tangy sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and chili peppers. The result is a dish that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a sauce that is both sweet and spicy.

Despite its popularity in the United States, General Tso Chicken is not widely known in China. In fact, the dish is not even served in the Hunan province, where General Tso was from. However, the dish has become a symbol of Chinese-American cuisine and is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

Ingredients and Preparation

Tong Cho Chicken

Tong Cho Chicken is a sweet and spicy, sticky chicken dish that is loved by many. The sauce is created by sautéing garlic, ginger, chilies, and fermented black beans with star anise in oil. The sauce is then mixed with chicken that has been marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil, and white rice. Here are the ingredients for Tong Cho Chicken:

  • Chicken breast or thigh
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chilies
  • Fermented black beans
  • Star anise
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • White rice

To prepare Tong Cho Chicken, first marinate the chicken with soy sauce, sesame oil, and white rice for at least 30 minutes. Then, sauté garlic, ginger, chilies, and fermented black beans with star anise in oil until fragrant. Add the chicken and cook until it is fully cooked and coated in the sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!

General Tso Chicken

General Tso Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that is crispy, sweet, and spicy. The sauce is made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, and dried chili peppers. The chicken is first coated in a mixture of cornstarch and egg before being deep-fried until crispy. Here are the ingredients for General Tso Chicken:

  • Chicken breast or thigh
  • Cornstarch
  • Egg
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Dried chili peppers

To prepare General Tso Chicken, first mix cornstarch and egg to create a batter. Dip the chicken in the batter and deep-fry until crispy. In a separate pan, sauté garlic, ginger, and dried chili peppers until fragrant. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar to the pan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the fried chicken to the pan and coat it in the sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!

Flavor and Texture

Tong Cho Chicken

Tong Cho Chicken is known for having a simple, soy sauce-based flavor. The sauce is usually garlic and ginger-infused, which gives the dish a savory taste. It has a mild heat level, making it a great option for people who prefer less spicy food. The chicken is typically stir-fried, which gives it a slightly crispy texture on the outside while still being tender on the inside.

Overall, Tong Cho Chicken is a lighter option compared to General Tso Chicken. It has a more subtle flavor profile and is less sweet, making it a great option for those who want to enjoy Chinese food without consuming too much sugar or calories.

General Tso Chicken

General Tso Chicken is known for its sweeter and tangier sauce. The sauce is made with soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and chili peppers, giving it a unique flavor. It has a higher heat level compared to Tong Cho Chicken, making it a great option for those who enjoy spicy food.

The chicken in General Tso Chicken is deep-fried, which gives it a crispy texture on the outside while still being juicy on the inside. However, this also means that it has a higher calorie and fat content compared to Tong Cho Chicken.

Overall, General Tso Chicken is a bolder option compared to Tong Cho Chicken. It has a stronger flavor profile and is sweeter, making it a great option for those who want to indulge in Chinese food.

Popularity and Availability

Tong Cho Chicken

Tong Cho chicken is a lesser-known dish in comparison to General Tso chicken. It is not as widely available in Chinese restaurants in the United States. However, it has gained popularity in recent years, and you can find it in some Chinese restaurants that offer a more extensive menu.

Tong Cho chicken is not as popular as General Tso chicken because it has a simpler flavor profile. The sauce is soy sauce-based, with garlic, ginger, and scallions. It doesn’t have the sweetness and tanginess that General Tso chicken sauce has.

General Tso Chicken

General Tso chicken is a popular dish in Chinese restaurants in the United States. It is widely available and can be found in most Chinese restaurants. It is also a popular take-out and delivery item.

The popularity of General Tso chicken can be attributed to its unique flavor profile. The sauce is sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy, making it a favorite of many. It is also a visually appealing dish, with crispy fried chicken pieces coated in a flavorful sauce and garnished with scallions.

General Tso chicken has become a staple of Chinese-American cuisine and has even been adapted into other dishes such as General Tso’s tofu and General Tso’s cauliflower.

In conclusion, while Tong Cho chicken may not be as widely available or popular as General Tso chicken, it is still a delicious dish worth trying. General Tso chicken’s popularity and availability make it a go-to dish for many Chinese food lovers in the United States.

Conclusion

After comparing Tong Cho Chicken and General Tso Chicken, it is clear that the main difference between the two dishes is the sauce. Tong Cho Chicken has a simpler, soy sauce-based flavor with garlic, ginger, scallions, sesame oil, and white rice, while General Tso Chicken has a sweeter and tangier sauce with fermented chili, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. Both sauces are delicious and flavorful.

When it comes to spiciness, General Tso Chicken is known for being slightly hotter than Tong Cho Chicken. However, the level of spice can vary depending on the restaurant or chef. It is important to ask about the spiciness level before ordering if you have a low tolerance for heat.

Another difference between the two dishes is the way the chicken is cooked. Tong Cho Chicken is typically stir-fried, while General Tso Chicken is usually deep-fried. This affects the texture and crispiness of the chicken.

Overall, both Tong Cho Chicken and General Tso Chicken are delicious Chinese dishes that are worth trying. If you prefer a simpler, soy sauce-based flavor, go for Tong Cho Chicken. If you like a sweeter and tangier sauce with a little more heat, General Tso Chicken is the way to go. Enjoy!

Similar Posts