Sesame Chicken vs Orange Chicken vs General Tso

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Chinese-American cuisine has established itself as a beloved staple in the United States culinary scene. Among several popular dishes, three stand out for their unique flavors and easy adaptability to the American palate: Sesame Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken vs Orange Chicken. I’ll take you on a journey through the origins, ingredients, preparation methods, and flavor profiles of these dishes.

orange chicken vs sesame chicken vs general tso

History and Origin

The history of Sesame Chicken can be traced back to China’s Hunan province, though it has been significantly modified to suit American tastes. This dish was popularized in North America by Chinese immigrants who altered traditional recipes to appeal to local preferences.

General Tso’s Chicken, named after a Qing dynasty military leader, was also invented in Taiwan by chef Peng Chang-kuei. The dish was originally spicy to reflect Hunanese cuisine but was sweetened after being introduced to the American market in the mid-1970s.

Orange Chicken, on the other hand, has its roots in the sweet and sour tradition of Chinese cuisine but has been distinctly Americanized. It is believed to have been created by Panda Express, a popular Chinese-American fast food chain.

See Also: Spring Roll vs Egg Roll

Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken is characterized by its crunchiness and sweet, slightly smoky flavor. The dish is made by deep-frying chunks of chicken that have been marinated and coated in batter. After frying, the chicken is tossed in a sweet and tangy sauce made from honey, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. The dish is completed with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

What is Sesame Chicken?

Sesame Chicken is a sweet, tangy dish that gets its name from the toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

History of Sesame Chicken

The exact origin of Sesame Chicken is unclear. However, it is believed to have originated from Guangdong province in China and was later modified for American tastes.

Ingredients in Sesame Chicken Sauce

The sauce for sesame chicken consists of soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and of course, sesame seeds.

How Do You Make Sesame Chicken?

Making sesame chicken involves seasoning and coating chicken pieces with flour or cornstarch before deep frying them. The sauce is made separately by heating the ingredients until they thicken. The fried chicken is then tossed in the sauce and garnished with sesame seeds.

General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken is known for its deep flavors that balance sweetness with heat. The chicken is marinated, battered, and deep-fried before being coated in a rich sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, and dried red chili peppers. The result is a dish with a complex flavor profile that combines sweet, spicy, tangy, and salty elements.

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

General Tso’s chicken is a sweet-sour and slightly spicy dish named after Tso Tsung-t’ang, a military leader from Hunan Province.

History of General Tso’s Chicken

This dish was reportedly created during the 1950s by Chef Peng Chang-kuei in Taiwan. It was modified for American tastes upon introduction to New York City in the 1970s.

Ingredients in General Tso’s Chicken Sauce

The sauce typically includes hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cornstarch slurry, and dried red chili peppers.

How Do You Make General Tso’s Chicken?

Like Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s involves coating and frying chicken pieces. The sauce is then made separately by simmering the ingredients. The chicken is tossed in the sauce and served with broccoli and rice.

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken is characterized by its pronounced citrus flavor. This dish involves deep-frying battered chicken pieces before coating them in a sauce that combines orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and ginger. The orange zest used in the sauce gives this dish its unique tangy-sweet flavor.

What is Orange Chicken?

Orange chicken is a sweet, sour, and slightly spicy dish that gets its name from the orange juice used in its sauce.

History of Orange Chicken

Orange chicken is believed to have originated in Hunan Province but has been adapted for Western palates.

Ingredients in Orange Chicken Sauce

The sauce typically includes orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, and cornstarch.

How Do You Make Orange Chicken?

Like the other two dishes, orange chicken involves frying coated chicken pieces. The sauce is prepared separately by combining and heating the ingredients. The fried chicken is then tossed into the sauce until well coated.

Similarities in Sesame Chicken, Orange Chicken and General Tso

All three dishes are typically made from bite-sized pieces of chicken that have been breaded and fried until crispy. They are then tossed in a sweet, tangy sauce that varies depending on the dish. All are served hot and are popular choices in Chinese-American restaurants.

Differences Between the Three Dishes

While all three dishes involve fried chicken coated in a sweet sauce, they each come with a unique flavor profile. Sesame Chicken has a nuttier flavor due to sesame seeds, Orange Chicken has a citrus tang from the orange juice in its sauce, and General Tso’s comes with some heat from chili peppers.

CategorySesame ChickenGeneral Tso ChickenOrange Chicken
FlavorSweet and nutty with sesameSweet, spicy, and slightly tangySweet and tangy with orange
SauceThick, dark brown sauceThick, dark red sauceThick, orange-colored sauce
Heat LevelMildMedium to HotMild to Medium
CoatingLight, crispyThick, crispyLight, crispy
Chicken TextureTenderTenderTender
Vegetable GarnishUsually served with broccoliTypically no vegetablesTypically no vegetables
OriginAmerican Chinese CuisineAmerican Chinese CuisineAmerican Chinese Cuisine
Popular inUnited StatesUnited StatesUnited States
Key IngredientsSesame seeds, soy sauceDried red chili peppers, garlicOrange zest, soy sauce
Serving MethodOften served over riceTypically served over riceOften served over rice

While all three dishes include deep-fried chicken chunks coated in a sweet sauce, their flavors vary significantly due to differences in their sauces’ ingredients. Sesame Chicken leans towards the sweeter side with a hint of smokiness from toasted sesame. General Tso’s offers balance of sweetness and heat thanks to the addition of dried red chili peppers. Orange Chicken stands out with its distinctive citrusy sweetness.

The texture of these dishes also varies based on how they are prepared. While all three have a crispy exterior from deep-frying, Sesame Chicken tends to be crunchy due to its thicker batter.

Choosing by Texture:

Sesame chicken tends to have a crunchier texture due to the sesame seeds. Both General Tso’s and Orange Chicken are slightly softer due to their sauces.

Choosing by Taste:

Sesame Chicken has a sweet and slightly nutty taste due to the sesame seeds. General Tso’s has a more robust flavor profile with sweetness, sourness, and spiciness. Orange Chicken brings a unique sweet-sour flavor with a hint of citrus.

Pairings and Serving Suggestions

When it comes to pairing and serving Chinese-American cuisine, Sesame Chicken is best served with fried rice or noodles for its full-bodied taste. General Tso’s Chicken pairs well with steamed vegetables or plain rice as its spiciness can perk up any bland side. Orange Chicken is best served with steamed rice or chow mein as its zesty flavor contrasts nicely with the milder dishes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken each offer unique flavors that make them distinct yet equally appealing options for lovers of-American cuisine. If you’re new to this cuisine and unsure which one to try first, why not start with the crowd favorite – Orange Chicken? Its sweet-tangy flavor has made it a hit among many Americans.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Sesame Chicken and General Tso?

While both dishes involve fried chicken coated in a sweet sauce, Sesame Chicken has a nuttier flavor due to sesame seeds while General Tso’s has a more complex flavor profile with some heat from chili peppers.

What is the difference between Sesame Chicken and Orange Chicken?

Sesame chicken includes sesame seeds which add a nutty flavor while orange chicken has a citrus tang due to orange juice in its sauce.

What is the difference between Orange Chicken and General Tso?

Orange Chicken uses orange juice in its sauce giving it a citrusy note while General Tso’s uses hoisin sauce and dried red chili peppers making it sweeter and spicier respectively.

 How does the texture of Sesame Chicken, Orange Chicken and General Tso differ?

Sesame Chicken tends to have a crunchier texture due to the sesame seeds. Both General Tso’s and Orange Chicken are slightly softer due to their sauces.

How do you pronounce General Tso?

General Tso is pronounced “General So”, where ‘So’ rhymes with ‘Go’.

In conclusion, while Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken may look similar at first glance, each dish offers its unique flavors and history. Happy dining!

What are the main ingredients in Sesame Chicken, Orange Chicken and General Tso’s sauces?

  • Sesame Chicken Sauce: Soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and sesame seeds.
  • General Tso’s Chicken Sauce: Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cornstarch slurry, and dried red chili peppers.
  • Orange Chicken Sauce: Orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, and cornstarch.

Sesame Chicken vs Orange Chicken vs General Tso

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman

Ingredients

  • Sesame Chicken

  • Orange Chicken

  • General Tso

Directions

  • Select your favorite recipe from the list.
  • Gather the ingredients you require.
  • Serve up and enjoy

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