Sesame Chicken vs General Tso

Sesame Chicken vs General Tso

Two chicken dishes. Two similar, yet different looks.

Two comparable, but distinctive flavors.

Sesame chicken and General Tso will both please your palate and challenge your taste buds to discern the important, small differences.

Sesame chicken vs General Tso

Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken look very similar, except that the Sesame chicken is tossed in sesame seeds. Put side-by-side, it is clear that the General Tso chicken has a slightly darker color than Sesame chicken. The main difference between them lies in the sauces. Both sauces are based on soy sauce, but each has different additives that produce distinctive flavors.

Sesame chicken

What is Sesame chicken?

With the name of the dish bearing the word ‘sesame’, it is clear that the dish is based heavily on the flavor of sesame.

Indeed, it is the tiny sesame seeds that are an important part of the dish, as is sesame oil. Of course, don’t forget the chicken.

Sesame chicken is a crispy chicken dish, with a sweet and savory sauce, using honey.

The chicken is cut into cubes or strips, which are stir-fried, using sesame oil and with ginger and garlic.

The sauce for sesame chicken has a soy sauce base, which is cooked with honey, ketchup, and garlic.

Sesame chicken is served with rice or noodles, and carrots as a side.

The origins of Sesame chicken

One version of the background of sesame chicken is that it originated in the Canton province on mainland China and then spread to northern China.

Another holds that it was created in Hong Kong, when a chef invented the dish using sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Yet another version is that the dish is a creation of Chinese restaurants in America, where a lot of authentic Chinese cuisine has been adapted over the years.

Arguably, this means that the dish is not really authentically Chinese. As Hong Kong was still leased to Britain in the 1980s, this suggests a British influence.

A lot of the American adaptations of traditional Chinese food are quite removed from their origins, so sesame chicken may have a very small link to traditional Chinese food.

It may be more accurate to suggest that the dish sesame chicken is more inspired by Chinese cuisine, rather than being authentically Chinese.

General Tso chicken

What is General Tso chicken?

General Tso chicken is a chicken dish consisting of crispy chicken pieces in a sweet and sour sauce with a touch of chili.

The basic sauce for General Tso chicken has a soy sauce base, which is mixed with chicken stock, vinegar, and honey, or brown sugar.

It is thickened with corn starch.

The ingredients that really give General Tso chicken its particular taste are the chili and garlic that are added to the sauce while it is simmering.

The chicken pieces are coated in the sauce, producing a shiny, sticky feel to the dish.

The chicken is cut into chunks and fried. It is then coated in the sauce, which gives it a sweet and sour flavor, with a touch of chili.

General Tso chicken is served with either rice or noodles, with steamed broccoli on the side.

The origins of General Tso chicken

General Tso chicken is credited to chef Peng Chang-Kuei, who created and named it in honor of General Tso (also known as Zuo Zontang), a great Chinese general from the Hunan province.

The dish was apparently first served at a banquet in Taiwan in the 1950s. It still remains a very popular dish served in American Chinese restaurants.

Sesame chicken vs General Tso chicken

To begin with, the main ingredient of both Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken is chicken.

Sesame chicken is made with strips or cubes of chicken breasts, while General Tso chicken is usually made with chunks of chicken thighs.

This is not the only similarity, though.

In both dishes, the chicken is fried in minimal oil, to make sure it is crispy on the outside, but not too oily.

For sesame chicken, use sesame oil; for General Tso chicken, any oil can be used.

The pieces of chicken are dipped in egg, then in corn starch before they are fried.

The batter creates a thin crust on the pieces of chicken.

For Sesame chicken, the chicken is fried in sesame oil, while a more neutral oil is used for General Tso.

The difference between Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken lies in the sauce.

The sauce for Sesame chicken is based on sesame oil and soy sauce, while the sauce for General Tso is based on soy sauce.

The sesame oil in the Sesame chicken gives the dish a slightly less sweet taste than General Tso chicken.

The sauce for sesame chicken has a soy sauce base, which is cooked with honey, ketchup, and garlic.

The sauce for General Tso chicken also has a soy sauce base, mixed with chicken stock, brown sugar, and vinegar (usually rice wine vinegar).

Where this differs specifically from the sauce for Sesame chicken is in the flavors and additives: chili flakes, garlic, hoisin sauce, and scallions.

The sauce for both these chicken dishes is quite dark red in color, but that for General Tso chicken is slightly darker than that for Sesame chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sesame Chicken vs General Tso

Why is General Tso chicken named after the general?

The General Tso chicken dish was created for a banquet in honor of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and named in honor of a great Chinese general from the Huan province, General Tso (Zuo Zontang).

Are Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken the same color?

Both Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken have a reddy-brown color, but General Tso’s is slightly darker.

Which is sweeter, Sesame chicken or General Tso chicken?

Both chicken dishes have a sweet-and-sour taste, but Sesame chicken is slightly sweeter because General Tso chicken has chili flakes in the sauce, which means that the flavor is not as sweet as that of Sesame chicken.


Conclusion

Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken are dishes that look similar and are made with most of the same ingredients.

The differences are in the details, though.

Why not have a taste of both dishes and let your tastebuds discern the important differences in the sauces?

That is, after all, where the difference lies.