Man Who Invented General Tso’s Chicken, Peng Chang-kuei, Dead at Age 98

General Tsos Chicken Peng Chang-kuei
General Tso's Chicken (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The man who created one of the most popular takeout Chinese dishes, General Tso’s Chicken, died at the age of 98 Wednesday, November 30, due to complications from pneumonia, the Taiwan News reported Friday, December 2.

Chef Peng Chang-kuei, originally from Hunan Province in China, began training as a chef at age 13, under well-renowned Hunan chef Cao Jing-chen. Once World War II ended, Peng ran Nationalist government banquets and then fled to Taiwan after the Communists defeated the Kuomintang, before later moving to the United States.

Peng brought his well-known dish to the U.S. when he opened his restaurant, Peng’s, in New York in 1973. Because of its proximity to the United Nations headquarters, officials often frequented his restaurant in search of the famous dish.

In a 1977 New York Times article, the popular dish was described as: “a stir-fired masterpiece, sizzling hot both in flavor and temperature, and dragon and phoenix was a combination of pearly, dewy fresh lobster chunks on one side of the platter and stir-fried chicken with peanuts on the other.”

Today, a typical General Tso’s Chicken recipe is comprised of deep fried, breaded chicken tossed in a sticky, sweet-and-spicy ginger garlic sauce known for its golden red color, and is typically served with broccoli.

Peng named the iconic dish after a Hunan war general during the Qing dynasty, Tso Tsung T’ang.

 

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