You may know the dish as General Tsuo’s, or Tzo’s or Tao’s or some other variation. You couldn’t really pronounce the name, but order it anyway at Panda Garden because of its addictiveness. Who cares if it isn’t really Chinese food, like your ABC friend hinted?
General Tso’s Chicken became popular in America via some enterprisingly Taiwanese chefs who opened Hunan restaurants in New York in the 1970s. Hunan cuisine is traditionally very spicy, full of smoky chilis and pickled vegetables. But to appeal to American diners, the chefs started deep-frying, and sweetening the sauces. They improved upon each other’s crispy chicken dishes until they got a crunchy, sweet, sour, and mildly spicy coating.