Are you wondering about the difference between Mongolian chicken and General Tso’s chicken? This well-researched blog post is for you.
Get ready for a journey through the bustling kitchens of Chinese-American culinary evolution.
From their origins to the sizzle in their sauces, let’s dissect the key differences and discover what makes each dish a standout on the menu.
What is Mongolian Chicken?
Mongolian chicken is a Chinese-American dish made with stir-fried chicken strips coated in cornstarch and cooked in a savory-sweet sauce. Unlike its name, it’s a creation of American-Chinese cuisine, not a traditional Mongolian recipe. The sauce, prepared with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sometimes chili flakes, strikes a balance between savory and sweet.
The fried chicken delivers a delightful crunch, often joined by veggies like green onions and bell peppers. Mongolian chicken is served over rice or noodles. You may wonder, but Mongolian chicken is also pretty close to another Chinese-style recipe, Kung Pao chicken.
What is General Tso’s Chicken?
General Tso’s Chicken is a Chinese-American creation named after General Tso, a Qing Dynasty military leader. Its roots trace back to mid-20th century America, inspired by Hunan cuisine but tailored for American palates. This dish is a combination of deep-fried chicken and sauce made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, and dried red chili peppers for a spicy and sweet flavor. It’s often served with steamed broccoli, offering a tasty interplay of textures and flavors.
Despite its Chinese-American popularity, General Tso’s Chicken is not rooted in traditional Chinese cooking.
Mongolian Chicken vs. General Tso’s – Key Difference
Mongolian chicken has a savory and slightly sweet profile with stir-fried chicken and dark brown sauce.
In contrast, General Tso’s chicken has a sweet, tangy, and spicy flavor attained through a crispy, deep-fried chicken and reddish orange sauce.
Noticeably, General Tso’s complexity comes from a richer ingredient list, including rice vinegar, red chili flakes, and orange zest, lending it a tangy flavor and bright appearance.
Detailed Difference Between General Tso’s Chicken and Mongolian Chicken
Interested to know more about General Tso’s chicken and Mongolian chicken? Here are the details of how both siblings differ from each other.
Mongolian Chicken doesn’t have a direct connection to the vast Mongolian plains. It’s more of a Chinese-American invention, known for its savory and slightly sweet soy-based sauce.
On the flip side, General Tso’s Chicken has a bit more history. Legend has it that it’s named after a Chinese military leader, General Tso, but the dish itself was likely born in the kitchens of New York City.
Mongolian Chicken boasts a sauce that’s all about savory, sweet, and dark. Soy sauce, ginger, and garlic take center stage to create a rich flavor profile, and dark brown sugar does wonders in offering brown color and sweetness.
General Tso’s, however, brings a party of flavors to the table. Its sauce is a sweet and spicy blend featuring ingredients like rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and a kick of heat from dried red chili peppers. It’s the sweet and spicy dance that sets it apart.
Mongolian Chicken keeps it cool on the spice level. It’s more about savoriness and letting the chicken do the talking.
General Tso’s, on the other hand, turns up the heat. The dish isn’t afraid to bring a little fire to the flavor fiesta, thanks to those red chili peppers.
For the texture, Mongolian chicken tends to keep things simple. The focus is on the tender chicken, with minimal crispy elements.
General Tso’s, however, likes a bit of crunch. The chicken is often coated in a light batter and deep-fried to golden perfection, adding a satisfying crispy element to each bite.
When it comes to garnish, Mongolian Chicken tends to keep it low-key—maybe a sprinkle of green onions, but nothing too flashy.
General Tso’s, being the bold character it is, often comes adorned with vibrant green broccoli. It adds a pop of color and a hint of veggie freshness to the ensemble.
Mongolian chicken is most commonly served over steamed rice or noodles. The rice or noodles provide a neutral base to soak up the flavorful sauce and contrast with the crispy chicken.
In a Nutshell
Mongolian Chicken is the strong, silent type, relying on savory simplicity. General Tso’s Chicken, on the other hand, is the life of the party, bringing sweet, spicy, and crispy to the flavor bash. So, next time you’re pondering the menu, you’ll know exactly what dance you want your taste buds to do.