General Tso is one of the most popular dishes at Windchimes. This sweet yet spicy, deep-fried chicken treat brings customers in but leaves them with the popular question of "who is General Tso?"
This dish is said to be named after Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader. There is no real connection to him or the dish from the Hunan Province and even his descendants, when interviewed, had never heard of the dish. There is also claim that a Taiwan-based Hunan chef named Peng Chang-kuei invented the popular dish. Peng started inventing new dishes and modifying traditional ones during the early 20th century when he moved to New York to open up a restaurant. He was not the only to lay claim to the dish. Shun Lee Palaces in New York City clamed to be the first restaurant to serve General Tso's chicken and states it was invented by a Chinese immigrant chef named T.T. Wang in 1972.
"We opened the first Hunanese restaurant in the whole country, and the four dishes we offered you will see on the menu of practically every Hunanese restaurant in America today. They all copied from us."
Even though there are several claims to the General Tso's history it can be reconciled that the current General Tso's chicken recipe was introduced by Chef Wang but as "General Ching's" a name which still has trace appearances on menus on the Internet (the identity of its namesake "General Ching" is, however, unclear); whereas the name "General Tso's chicken" traces to Chef Peng, who cooked it in a different way.
He may not be an actual person but General Tso sure does leave customers at several Chinese restaurants very, very pleased! Thank you!