Sesame chicken vs. General Tso’s chicken? Both are superb Chinese-inspired foods that are appealing to many people in North America. Although they seem interchangeable, sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken are quite different.
So, if you are looking for information about sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken, I suggest you read this post. You will learn interesting facts about them, their differences, similarities, and recipes.
Sesame chicken, also known as sticky honey sesame chicken, came from Guangdong province in China. The dish was brought to the USA around the 20th century by immigrants who later opened up a restaurant serving Chinese foods. And sesame chicken has become popular since then.
Sesame chicken is boneless deep-fried chicken pieces coated in egg, cornstarch, sesame, and special sauces. People often serve it with rice, carrots, broccoli, or cabbage. If you want to know the recipe, keep scrolling down.
The dish is available on the menus of most Chinese restaurants and takeaway shops in the USA and Canada. It is an addictive dish for kids or even adults with a sweet flavor.
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But some may confuse sesame chicken with General Tso’s chicken. So, what is General Tso’s chicken exactly?
General Tso’s Chicken, also called General Tao’s or General Tsao’s chicken, is an American-Chinese dish. You can find the food mostly in Chinese restaurants and eating outlets throughout North America.
General Tso’s Chicken involves deep-fried pieces of chicken coated in a soy-based sauce. Its outstanding flavor is sweet and spicy. People often eat it with white rice, fried rice, and broccoli.
However, to your surprise, the original General Tso’s chicken is far different from its current version. It used to be a heavy, hot, sour, and salty dish.
The history of this dish is a bit complicated. In the 1950s, Peng Chang-kuei – a talented Taiwanese chef, invented and named it after Zuo Zongtang (also called Tso Tsung-t’ang), a Qing Dynasty statesman and military leader.
When Mr. Peng arrived in the USA, he was furious to discover that his creation had been introduced to the locals by some Chinese chefs, albeit in a different version. That made Mr.Peng initially struggle to gain his reputation in America, but he finally succeeded.
One of his faithful customers was Henry A. Kissinger – the former U.S Secretary of State. He helped bring General Tso’s chicken and its creator to public notice. You may find the whole story in a documentary called The Search for General Tso (1).
The story behind General Tso’s chicken may surprise you. Let’s check it out!
It is time to dig deeper into the characteristics of sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken to see whether they are similar or different. This comparison will help you differentiate between them and decide which one is more suitable for you.
|Main Features||Sesame Chicken||General Tsos Chicken|
|Appearance||Chicken pieces coated in sauce with sesame and spring onion greens||Chicken pieces coated in sauce with spring onion greens and dried chili peppers, but without sesame|
|Made from||Usually chicken thighs||Usually chicken thighs|
|Flavor||sweet and tangy||spicy, sweet, and tangy|
|Average Calories||1329 per pound (2)||1338 per pound (3)|
Sesame Chicken and General Tso’s chicken share some characteristics. That is why there is a common confusion between these two American-Chinese dishes. Let’s find out the similarities now.
Sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken look similar. They both involve shining boneless chicken pieces and spring onions.
Even though some pay attention to the presence of sesame seeds or dried chili, they might think these ingredients are optional to the same dish. But they are not.
The most important ingredient in both dishes is chicken. Normally, people use chicken thighs because dark meat is juicier. However, some prefer chicken breast for lean protein. It is up to personal preference.
The next ingredient to create the typical flavor of Chinese cuisine is soy sauce. It is used in both dishes. Besides, sugar, corn flour, and cornstarch slurry are all present. They are the crucial ingredients in deciding the tangy and sweet flavor of the two dishes.
The total cooking time (including preparation) is around 40-45 minutes for both sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken. They also require the standard amount of marination time for chicken cuts like other dishes.
These two dishes do not require the cooks to have special skills. As long as you follow the recipe to make crispy chicken and the right sauce, you will have delicious food.
Both dishes can go nicely with popular chicken side dishes. A few choices are rice and fried rice. General Tso’s chicken is usually served with steamed broccoli.
Meanwhile, people also combine sesame chicken with diverse types of veggies such as broccoli, carrot, or cabbage.
These chicken dishes are not designed to serve any specific occasions. But of course, they are good for parties or special occasions. But people usually eat sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken in everyday meals. They are popular takeouts in the USA.
Despite the similarities, they do have identical features to distinguish. I am going to help you find out their differences so that you will never confuse them.
In both dishes, the chicken is battered, fried, and tossed in a sauce made with sugar and soy sauce. This similar cooking process makes two of them taste crispy, tangy, and sweet. However, there is an obvious difference that you will notice easily.
General Tso’s chicken is much spicier than the other. As dried chili peppers are the main ingredient, they create distinctive spiciness for General Tso’s chicken. By contrast, sesame chicken barely includes any chili.
The two dishes include some components that are missing in the other. Also, the marinade and sauce-making processes make them dissimilar since they include some different special ingredients.
First and foremost, sesame chicken always contains sesame seeds and oil. On the other hand, General Tso’s chicken does not, though some people like to add them in as their personal preference.
Another difference is about the egg. Sesame chicken recipe includes whole eggs, while General Tso’s chicken recipe only has egg white.
Finally, the special sauce of sesame chicken contains ketchup and honey, while Chinese cooking wine is present in the sauce of General Tso’s chicken.
It’s a very hard question to answer since they are both delicious. However, you can base on the following criteria to decide which one is more suitable for you.
As I mentioned above, General Tso’s chicken is much spicier than Sesame chicken. Thus, if you love spicy food, you know which one is more appealing to you.
On the other hand, spicy dishes are not ideal for those who cannot tolerate spice and suffer from peptic ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Therefore, they should go for sesame chicken rather than General Tso’s chicken.
Another factor to help you make a rational decision is nutrition facts. A wise consumer knows what is best for his or her body. Check out the table below to see the detailed nutrition of the two dishes with a portion size of 1 pound. (2) (3)
|Nutrition facts||Sesame chicken||General Tsos chicken|
In general, both sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken provide you with similar types of nutrients. They are good sources of protein, calcium, and potassium. However, sesame chicken has slightly fewer calories and fat than General Tso’s chicken.
Another thing to keep in mind is that they both contain a high level of sugar. Therefore, diabetics should think twice before consuming them.
So, are you excited to learn the recipe for sesame chicken? Even though some may alter the recipe to their preference, here is a simple and basic one to cook at home. I am sure you will love the result.
- Boneless chicken 0.8 lbs (350g)
- Oil around 2 cups
- Water 2 tbsp
- Salt ½ tsp
- Pepper powder ½ tsp
- Minced garlic 1 tsp
- Sugar 2 tbsp
- Honey 1,5 tbsp
- Tomato ketchup 2 tbsp
- Dark soy sauce 1 tbsp
- White vinegar 2 tsp
- Egg 1
- Corn flour 3 tbsp + 1 tsp to make corn slurry
- Sesame oil 2 tsp
- White sesame seeds 2 tsp
- Spring onions 3 tbsp
Step 1: Chop 350 g boneless chicken thighs into pieces, and put them into a big bowl.
Step 2: Add pepper powder, salt, grated garlic, and the whisked egg into the meat. Mix well. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
Step 3: In a different bowl, make the sauce with tomato ketchup, dark soy sauce, honey, white vinegar, sugar, and water. Mix well.
Step 4: After 30 minutes, add corn flour to the chicken meat and mix well to coat the chicken.
Step 5: Heat oil on a frying pan, then add the coated chicken into the oil piece by piece. Fry for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat until they turn golden. Avoid frying too many pieces at the same time since they can stick to each other. You’d better fry them in batches.
Step 6: Prepare a wok or a pan. Add the sauce mixture made in advance and cook it for 1 to 2 minutes on medium heat. Next, add corn slurry (1 part corn flour mixed with 4 parts water), and cook for another 1 minute.
Step 7: Toss fried chicken pieces in the sauce and mix well. Then add sesame oil. Stir fry them for 1 to 2 minutes on high heat or until the sauce completely covers the chicken.
Step 8: Add 2 tsp white sesame seeds and 3 tbsp spring onions. Keep stir-frying for 1 minute on high heat.
Step 9: Place the meat on a dish. Best to serve with rice. If you want to eat it later, keep it on the pan and warm it up when eating. But cooked chicken can’t stay outside for long. You shouldn’t let it sit out for more than 2 hours to avoid bacteria growth.
In case you want to keep it longer, consider wrapping it into an airtight bag and keeping it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat only once when you serve, but doing so might lose the crispy texture.
Check this out to cook sesame chicken as delicious as the restaurant’s version.
Let’s continue with General Tso’s Chicken. People adjust the recipe in many ways to make the dish suit their appetite. You can follow the suggested recipe below for an astonishing dish of General Tso’s chicken.
- Boneless (and skinless if you wish) chicken thighs 1.5 lbs (680 g)
- Egg whites 2
- Dark soy sauce 7 tbsp
- Chinese cooking wine 7 tbsp
- Vodka 3 tbsp
- Baking soda ¼ tsp
- Cornstarch 1 cup + 3 tbsp
- Corn flour 1 cup
- Baking powder 1 tsp
- Salt 1 tsp
- Rice wine vinegar 3 tbsp
- Chicken stock 1 tbsp
- Sesame oil 1 tsp
- Sugar ¼ cup
- Spring onions 6
- Garlic 4 cloves
- Ginger 2-inch piece
- Dried chili peppers 6
Step 1: Whisk 2 egg whites. Then add 3 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine, and 3 tbsp of Vodka. Mix them well. Set aside half of the mixture.
Step 2: To the other half, add ¼ tsp of baking soda and 3 tbsp of cornstarch. Then mix them vigorously.
Step 3: Cut boneless and skinless chicken thighs into pieces.
Step 4: Mix the chicken with the egg white – cornstarch mixture in step 2. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes.
Step 5: Take a bowl, add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of cornstarch, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt. Add 3 tbsp of the marinade you keep in the first step. Mix them well.
Step 6: Make the special sauce by adding 4 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 4 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, ¼ cup of sugar, 4 tbsp of chicken stock, 1 tsp of sesame oil, and 1 tbsp of cornstarch in a separate bowl. Whisk them well together.
Step 7: Heat the pan with 2 tbsp of oil, then add chopped spring onions, grated garlic, grated ginger, and dried chili peppers. Saute for a while before adding the sauce you made in step 6. Mix and cook the mixture until it thickens.
Step 8: Coat the chicken in the flour – cornstarch mixture whipped up in step 5. Then heat the oil in a large pan and deep fry the chicken until they turn golden.
Step 9: Toss the fried chicken into the sauce in step 7. And there you have General Tso’s Chicken.
You cannot miss this guide to cooking mouthwatering General Tso’s chicken.
Are you still unsure about something relating to Sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken? Here are some more questions about the two dishes.
Both Sesame Chicken And General Tso’s Chicken Are Worth Trying
I hope that now you get everything you need to know about Sesame Chicken and General Tso’s Chicken. Even though they are similar or different, they are appealing to food lovers. If you have not tasted them yet, you’d better give them a try.
Do you want to try cooking them at home? I would love to hear what you think about them and the astonishing dishes you cook at home. If you find this blog informative and useful, I suggest you share it with your friends and family. Thank you, and enjoy your meal!
- Nytimes.com. 2016. Peng Chang-kuei, Chef Behind General Tso’s Chicken, Dies at 98.
- Nutritionvalue.org. 2022. Sesame chicken nutrition facts and analysis.
- Nutritionvalue.org. 2022. General Tso chicken nutrition facts and analysis.
Table of Contents
- General Knowledge About Sesame Chicken
- Things To Know About General Tso’s Chicken
- Sesame Chicken Vs. General Tso’s Chicken – A Full Comparison
- Which One Is Better, Sesame Chicken Or General Tso’s Chicken?
- How To Cook Tasty Sesame Chicken?
- General Tso’s Chicken Recipe You Must Know
- Both Sesame Chicken And General Tso’s Chicken Are Worth Trying