General Tso was born on this day in 1812

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TSO (soh)

1. General Tso: a Chinese statesman and military leader of the late Qing Dynasty

2. General Tso's chicken: a sweet-and-spicy, deep-fried chicken dish that is popularly served in North American Chinese restaurants

Common clues: General on Chinese menus; Chicken general?; Eponymous general; Hunan general; General one can take out?; Name associated with chicken

Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year

News: 10 Chinese Dishes That Real Chinese People Don't Eat

Video: How to make General Tso' Chicken

Zuo Zongtang (November 10, 1812 - September 5, 1885), spelled Tso Tsung-t'ang in Wade-Giles and known simply as General Tso in the West, was a Chinese statesman and military leader of the late Qing Dynasty.

He was born in Wenjialong, north of Changsha in Hunan province. He served in China's northwestern regions, quelling the Dungan revolt and various other disturbances. He served with distinction during the Qing Empire's civil war against the Taiping Rebellion, in which it is estimated 20 million people died.

General Tso's chicken (sometimes Governor Tso's chicken, General Tao's chicken, General Tsao's chicken, General Gow's Chicken, General Gao's chicken, or General Gau's chicken) is a sweet-and-spicy, deep-fried chicken dish that is popularly served in North American Chinese restaurants. The dish was unknown in China and other lands home to the Chinese diaspora before it was introduced by chefs returning from the United States. The dish is named after General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty general and statesman, although this connection is tenuous. He is said to have enjoyed it, and perhaps helped create a dish, but there are no recorded recipes. The real roots of the dish lie in the post 1949 exodus of chefs to the United States. The dish is reported to have been introduced to New York City in the early 1970s as an example of Hunan cooking, though it is not typical of Hunanese cuisine, which is traditionally very spicy and rarely sweet. The dish was first mentioned in The New York Times in 1977.

The dish has been associated with the name of Zuo Zongtang (1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan. While Zuo himself is rumored to have tasted the dish almost as it is today, recipes and writings indicate he may have authored a similar formula. The dish is neither found in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, nor in Xiangyin, the home of General Tso. Moreover, descendants of General Tso still living in Xiangyin, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish.

There are several stories concerning the origin of the dish. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to "Zongtang" in "Zuo Zongtang chicken" was not a reference to Zuo Zongtang's given name, but rather a reference to the homonym "zongtang", meaning "ancestral meeting hall". Consistent with this interpretation, the dish name is sometimes (but considerably less commonly) found in Chinese as "Zuo ancestral hall chicken".

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Zuo_Zongrang" and “General Tso's Chicken”.