Difference Between Kung Pao and General Tso

Kung Pao vs General Tso

Kung Pao and General Tso are not the names of two Chinese army Generals or martial arts. They are names of two popular Chinese chicken dishes that are similar to each other and are, therefore, confusing for many. People order one in anticipation of the other and often make the mistake in correctly calling out the name of the dish. This article intends to highlight the differences between General Tso and Kung Pao to remove all confusion form the minds of Chinese food lovers across the country.

Kung Pao

This is a popular Chinese takeout dish that is made from chicken and peanuts. It evolved from the central province of Sichuan in China and often transliterated as Gong Bao chicken too. This is a dish that can be found throughout mainland China though there are regional differences in ingredients and preparation. Today, Kung Pao has become a renowned Chinese dish in restaurants across US. The name Kung Pao is derived from Gong Bao that was the title of a Governor of the province of Sichuan at one time under the rule of Qing dynasty. It is interesting to note that the name of the dish has been changed to fast fry chicken cubes as the new regime did not like the association of the name of the dish with a Qing dynasty governor.

To prepare Kung Pao chicken, raw chicken that has been marinated is fast fried along with skinless roasted peanuts in rice wine, oyster sauce, chilies, carrots, cabbage, and celery. The dish is very popular among Chinese restaurants in US. However, the dish in American restaurants is made without Sichuan peppercorn that is the main ingredient in the Chinese version of the dish.

General Tso

Do not be misled by the name as this is a delicious chicken dish that is very popular as a takeaway dish in Chinese restaurants across the country. It is interesting to note that this dish was unknown to the Chinese themselves, and they got to know about the recipe only when the chefs from US restaurants returned home. The name of the dish is believed to be after a Qing Dynasty official though the claim is not genuine.

Today, General’s chicken, as it is lovingly called by the Americans, is the most sought after Chinese dish in restaurants inside US.

Kung Pao vs General Tso

• Kung Pao is an authentic Chinese dish whereas General Tso is a dish that originated in Chinese restaurants across US.

• Kung Pao is hot and spicy, whereas General Tso is sweet and spicy.

• There are no peanuts in General Tso, whereas peanuts are integral to Kung Pao.

• Kung Pao is a much older dish than General Tso.

  • Will Findlay

    This article could use some revision… Go watch the documentary on Netflix about General Tso’s Chicken and you’ll see why.