General Tso’s chicken, often referred to as an American-Chinese cuisine, was named after General Tso Tsung-tang, a Chinese military leader. This dish is often made with chicken breast, and it is inexplicably awesome.
Besides Jerk Chicken, general tso chicken has become one of my favorite chicken dishes over the years, and I have made countless variations with numerous ingredients for my family.
However, a typical concern if you’re gluten-sensitive or have celiac disease is whether it is safe for you to have some. Here is all we know about the gluten status of General Tso’s chicken, its healthy status, and answers to most other inquiries of yours.
What Is General Tso Chicken?
General Tso’s chicken is the most popular Huananese dish you’ve ever heard about. It is made from a combination of slightly battered chicken in a sweet and sour sauce and chili. This recipe is present in almost all restaurants you visit across the world.
Despite being famous, you’ll be shocked to know that this dish isn’t all that popular where it hails from. On my visit to Hunan in 2005, I scanned restaurant menus for general Tso’s chicken, as I so much wanted to try the locally made version, and that was where I learned that the dish isn’t popular in Hunan because they hardly combine savory and sweet tastes.
Further inquiries opened my eyes, as I realized General Tso’s chicken is not officially penned down in the classic cookbooks of Hunanese foods; however, it is the backwash of the Chinese Civil War.
After the Nationalist Party lost, they fled to Taiwan with as many gifted people, including chefs—notably Peng Chang-Kuei, who invented the dish with typical Hunanese flavors—sour, heavy, salty, and hot.
A while after retreating to Taiwan, he came to the United States and opened his restaurant in New York in the 1970s. He had to adapt his recipe to include sugar (giving it that sweet, savory taste), as the traditional recipe was made without sugar.
Is General Tso Chicken Breaded?
There are lots of recipes available, but most of them involve dipping the chicken in a mixture of flour, water, and other ingredients (batter) before it is fried, which means that while it is not breaded in crumbs, it is still coated with batter, which still qualifies as being breaded.
How Does General Tso Chicken Taste?
General Tso chicken tastes tangy, sweet, and spicy. The dried chilis make the dish spicy, while its thick sauce (a marinade of cornstarch, soy sauce, and rice wine) gives it a tangy and sweet taste. Most recipes call for the removal of the bones and skins of the chicken, making it crispy, easy to eat, and mushy.
Is General Tso Chicken Gluten Free?
General Tso’s chicken is not gluten-free. It is traditionally dipped in wheat flour batter. Also, it is marinated in wheat-containing soy sauce, making it not gluten-free and not safe for gluten-sensitive individuals.
However, it is possible to get some gluten-free General Tso chicken. When dining out, it is essential to communicate your dietary restrictions to the server and chef, asking them to substitute the soy sauce with coconut aminos or tamari sauce or substitute the wheat flour batters with cornstarch, rice flour, quinoa flour, or chickpea flour, while also ensuring different utensils are used for frying.
You could also make it at home to ensure all ingredients are gluten-free. I will be sharing my favorite recipe further down in the article.
Is General Tso Chicken Healthy?
Unfortunately, General Tso chicken is not a healthy diet. While it contains healthy spices, veggies, and lean meat, when fried, the calorie and fat content increases significantly.
Also, in each General Tso chicken serving, there is over 1/4 teaspoon of salt, which could lead to high blood pressure and heart disease over time as a result of the high sodium content.
In a serving of general Tso chicken (535g), there are over 1578 calories, 88 grams of fat (15g saturated fats), 128 grams of carbohydrates, 62 grams of sugar, 284mg of cholesterol, and 62 grams of sugar, making it not healthy as it delivers almost your entire day’s need of calories, carbs, fats, and sodium.
While we need carbs to fuel our activities for the day, you could be headed toward excessive weight gain if you constantly eat some general Tso, as there is a chance you’ll pair the chicken with some chow mein or rice, which sends the carb content through the roof. According to Mayo Clinic, we should consume between 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.
With each layer, sauce, and side; fats, and calories are added. However, this shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying general Tso. A trick for me is to pair it with fibrous veggies, which helps ease up on the carbs while keeping you satisfied.
What to Serve With General Tso Chicken
There are many kinds of veggies and sides you could pair with general Tso chicken. Here are the ones I love most:
A great way to enjoy your general chicken is to throw in some roasted veggies; the taste is always great. To ensure they are well cooked, I sprinkle a little salt, olive oil, and pepper before roasting them.
When paired with General Tso’s chicken, the contrasting textures and flavors of the two dishes can create a satisfying and well-rounded meal.
The crispy and savory lumpia serves as a perfect complement to the sweet and spicy fried chicken, providing a balance of flavors and textures in each bite.
The vegetable soup can be customized just how you like it. You can use vegetables like celery, carrots, and potatoes. To get this soup ready, in a little olive oil, you should sauté the veggies, add broth and water afterward, bring to a boil on low heat, and simmer for 21 minutes. You’re good to go.
Mash potatoes and general tso can never go wrong. You could add some corn or green beans to the mashed potatoes to create an extra twist.
General Tso’s chicken is an irresistible kitchen marvel. It awakens your taste buds in dimensions words can’t explain, with its sweet, spicy, and savory flavor. However, it is sometimes breaded with wheat flour and marinated with soy sauce, both of which contain gluten, making it unsuitable for people with celiac disease or noncelian gluten sensitivity.
However, being gluten-sensitive doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this chicken dish. Communicate your dietary restrictions to the chef through the server, and they will make a gluten-free variation for you. It is best to visit restaurants that take strong measures to ensure foods are gluten-free whenever you dine out.