Ta Chien Chicken vs. General Tso: Differences & Which Is Better?

Ta Chien Chicken vs. General Tso
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Among so many versions, two Chinese dishes, in particular, tend to catch my eye – especially when they appear on the same menu: General Tso chicken and Ta Chien chicken. Both dishes feature a crispy, deep-fried coating with a sweet, savory sauce. But these dishes are much more than this; their differences in taste, texture, ingredients, preparation – even the end use – are great topics for delicious debate. So, what is the difference between Ta Chien chicken and General Tso?

Ta Chien chicken has a tangy flavor from its orange-based glaze, while General Tso packs a punch from its deep, spicy chili base, adding a bit of sweetness. Ta Chien chicken boasts a bright orange color, while General Tso has more of a red-brown look.

In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know in detail about these two dishes and help you decide which one is better for your palate. Let’s get to know these two dishes a bit better!

Differences

Ta Chien chicken is a Chinese-style fried chicken dish originating from Taichung, Taiwan, named after a general of the Three Kingdoms period, and featuring a spicy and sweet sauce, while General Tso chicken is a classic Chinese-American dish, typically featuring deep-fried chicken chunks also coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. 

The dish is thought to have originated from the Hunan province, where it has a different name than the Americanized version – General Tso chicken. The General Tso version tends to be sweeter than the Hunanese original.

So, what are the actual differences between these two? Let’s find out!

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Appearance

When it comes to the appearance of Ta Chien chicken and General Tso chicken, there are a few distinctions. 

Ta Chien chicken is a real show-stopper on the plate. The chicken pieces are perfectly fried, giving the dish a crunchy texture and irresistible smell. It is a glazed chicken dish cooked in a dark sauce and traditionally served with broccoli, carrots, and water chestnuts. It’s topped with yellow peppers and sliced green onions, giving it an eye-catching display of vibrant colors.

On the other hand, General Tso is lighter in color, with smaller pieces of chicken coated in a sweeter sauce, similar to Ta Chien chicken, but with more of an emphasis on the sauce. 

It consists of breaded fried chicken in a deep red-brown sauce. The dish is usually served with broccoli florets or peanuts for an extra crunchy texture. It’s also garnished with thin strips of white pepper for a spicy kick that contrasts nicely with the sauce’s sweetness.

The difference in color between the two dishes is not only esthetically pleasing but also indicative of their distinct tastes.

Taste and Texture

Ta Chien chicken is a crispy deep-fried chicken dish coated with a sweet and savory garlic-and-ginger-based sauce. It’s usually served over rice, stir-fried vegetables, or noodles, and its texture is crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

General Tso is also a crispy dish made with deep-fried chicken, but it has a sweeter flavor profile due to bright accents like hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and other seasonings. The texture is crunchy all around, thanks to the use of cornstarch as a coating before frying. General Tso is usually served over steamed white or brown rice for a balanced meal.

I adore Ta Chien chicken for its spicier, more savory flavor profile and crunchy texture. The deep-fried chicken gets coated in a sweet and savory spicy garlic sauce that packs a punch.

Trust me; both dishes provide an explosion of delicious Asian flavors that tantalize the taste buds and make for unforgettable culinary experiences. So, trying both won’t leave you disappointed, depending on how spicy you like your food. Therefore, depending on your spice preference, you may prefer one dish over the other.

Ingredients and Preparation

When comparing Ta Chien chicken and General Tso, the differences in ingredients and preparation are pretty noticeable. Ta Chien chicken is made with chicken thighs, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, cornstarch, mixed pepper, and hot sauce. 

The chicken is usually marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and various seasonings before being deep-fried. It’s then cooked with vegetables, garlic, and chili sauce for an extra burst of flavor. 

On the other hand, General Tso is made with chicken breasts marinated in egg whites and cornstarch, creating a light coating that seals in the juices. The chicken is then fried until crisp before being combined with a sweet-spicy sauce that’s made with ginger-based sauce, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. 

Variations

Variations in Ta Chien Chicken and General Tso

General Tso chicken has numerous variations from the traditional recipe, such as adding pineapple, mango, bell peppers, or broccoli. Plus, it can be served with different sauces like garlic sauce, sweet sauce, or spicy & sour sauce.

Ta Chien chicken also has many variations depending on the geographic region and culture that make it. Many cooks will add their own twist to the classic recipe by using garlic, ginger, or even Sichuan peppercorn or chili flakes to give this dish a unique flavor. 

As for sauces, Ta Chien chicken is often served with a sweet-and-sour sauce made from soy sauce and a vinegar-based sauce. Besides, Ta Chien chicken can come in various forms – from regular pieces of fried chicken in a sweet sauce to shredded fried chicken served over a bed of lettuce.

In conclusion, both dishes are delicious, but deciding which dish you prefer may depend on what variation you’re used to eating and how your taste buds react to the different ingredients used in each dish’s preparation.

Which Is Better, Ta Chien Chicken or General Tso?

The age-old debate about which is better: Ta Chien chicken or General Tso? It’s hard to say definitively which side of the debate wins out, as there are pros and cons to both options.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to your personal preference. If you’re a fan of sweetness and complexity, then General Tso might be for you, but if you’re more into something spicy and savory, Ta Chien chicken should be your go-to.