What Vegetables Go with General Tso Chicken? Expert Pairing Tips

Written By: Paul

What Vegetables Go with General Tso Chicken

General Tso Chicken refers to a classic American Chinese deep-fried chicken dish that is a favorite from coast to coast. This flavorful and indulgent dish, which may also be known as General Tao’s Chicken or General Tsao Chicken, has grown in popularity steadily and quickly since the 1970s, with different manufacturers now offering General Tso Chicken in most frozen food sections of major grocery stores.

However, vegetable pairings for General Tso Chicken recipes vary, depending on the region and the chef’s personal touch or preference. So, if you are searching for the tastiest vegetables that pair well with General Tso Chicken, grab a seat because the best General Tso Chicken sides are detailed below.

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

General Tso's Chicken dish low angle view.

General Tso Chicken is a popular dish known for its combination of tender yet crispy textures, as well as its savory and sweet flavor profile.

While many chefs and foodies quibble about its name’s origins, many contend this dish has been named after the Qing dynasty military leader – Zuo Zongtang. However, no clear historical connection exists between this wildly popular deep-fried chicken dish and Zongtang.

Still, others argue General Tso Chicken is remotely connected to Hunan cuisine, which refers to one of China’s Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Foodtypically characterized by spicy and colorful cuisine with wonderful aromas.  

General Tso Chicken – The Recipe

General Tso’s chicken typically consists of battered and deep-fried pieces of chicken that are then coated in a sweet but tangy and slightly spicy Asian-flavored sauce. While similar to another favorite Chinese dish – Sesame Chicken – General Tso Chicken’s sauce tends to be more complex and characterized by some underlying heat.

Ingredients for the General Tso Chicken

  • 1 and ½ lbs. of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Cut Into 1-inch Bite-size/Cubed Pieces.
    Pro Tip – You can use chicken breasts instead of the darker thigh meat; however, chicken thighs are the most traditional protein choice.
  • 2 Eggs Beaten Lightly.
  • Vegetable Oil – Enough to Fry Chicken.
    Pro-Tip Use a fry thermometer when cooking. This helps make sure the oil temperature stays at 350 degrees F. This is critical because –
    • If the cooking oil becomes too cold, the chicken has time to absorb too much oil, so it becomes greasy.
    • If the cooking oil is too hot, the outside of the chicken pieces will likely burn way before the inside has a chance to cook through entirely.  
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste.
  • ½ Cup of Cornstarch.
  • ½ Cup of All-Purpose Flour.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Green Onions – Sliced Thinly.
  • 2 Teaspoons of Sesame Seeds.

This delectable dish begins with cubes of chicken, first seasoned with salt and pepper and then battered with cornstarch, flour, and eggs. The cubed chicken is deep-fried until each piece turns a golden-brown color. When cooked, remove the cubed chicken from the oil and place it on clean paper towels, covering a plate to absorb excess cooking oil.

Ingredients For The General Tso Chicken Sauce

The sauce for General Tso’s chicken is simple, and often, its ingredients are staples in a standard or traditional pantry –  

  • 2 Teaspoons of Vegetable Oil.
  • ½ Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – Adjust the Heat to Suit your Taste.
  • 2 Teaspoons of Fresh Garlic – Minced.
  • ¾ Cup of Low-Sodium Chicken Broth.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar.
  • ¼ Cup of Low-Sodium Soy Sauce.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch.

Heat the above-noted ingredients to craft the sauce in a pan or skillet. Then, toss the General Tso chicken in the sauce until fully coated. Sprinkle sliced green onions and sesame seeds over the top of the dish prior to serving.

General Tso Chicken is best served immediately, as the coating will absorb the sauce, and the chicken will become softer as it sits and lose its desired texture.

The next step is to create the perfect vegetable side dish to complement this delicious Asian specialty. But what vegetables go with General Tso Chicken recipes?

The good news is there are several options from which to choose, with the only limitations being your taste preferences and imagination. The best vegetables with General Tso Chicken will maintain the cuisine’s cultural authenticity and –

  • Enhance the dish’s flavor profile.
  • Add nutritional value as well as textural contrast.
  • Offer visual appeal to the plate and more.

Top Vegetable Pairings for General Tso Chicken

Top Vegetable Pairings for General Tso Chicken

Typically, most Chinese restaurants that highlight General Tso’s Chicken serve this popular dish with a bed of steamed rice and a side of –

Steamed Broccoli

The most common side served with General Tso chicken is steamed and nutritious broccoli – rich in vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. This vegetable complements the umami richness of the sweet/tangy deep-fried chicken with its unique flavor, colorful florets, and crunchiness.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, which offer nutrient-dense options, are another flavorful side dish that pairs well with General Tso Chicken. Brussels sprouts offer a subtle bitterness that pleasantly contrasts with the sweet notes of the chicken dish, introducing a layer of complexity to the flavor profile.

Mustard Greens

The herbal aroma and velvety texture of mustard greens create a great contrast to the spicy, juicy, and crunchy General Tso chicken. They offer low-calorie options that are high in fiber, nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, etc.

Mushrooms – Mushrooms contribute a savory and earthy essence that offers great harmony to General Tso Chicken’s sweet and spicy notes. When stir-fried, mushrooms can provide a pleasing textural contrast to the crispy, deep-fried chicken pieces. Mushrooms are low in calories but high in fiber, nutrition, and antioxidants.

Incorporating Vegetables into the Dish

Consider these quick General Tso Chicken sides, made in a separate pan and combined with the cooked chicken before serving. Avoid overcooking your General Tso Chicken sides to preserve their texture and innate nutrients.

  • Steamed Broccoli – steam the broccoli florets for 3- 5 minutes, as this will allow them to remain crunchy and preserve the vegetable’s nutrients and natural flavors.
  • Stir-Fried Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts – slice these cabbage family members in half or quarters and fry them with vegetable oil and –
    • Minced garlic, ginger, red chilis,
    • A sauce consisting of cornstarch, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, water, and roasted peanuts.
  • Mustard Greens – This simple General Tso Chicken sides option takes less than a half hour. After washing the greens, chop them and toss them in a skillet with olive oil, minced garlic salt, and pepper. Sauté a minute or two before adding enough water to cover the greens. Bring the mustard greens to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir-Fried Asian Mushrooms – use any type of mushroom, although even simple, low-fat, low-carb, and cost-effective button mushrooms are delicious. After slicing or quartering the mushrooms, stir-fry them (until caramelized) in sesame oil (3-5 minutes) and add the following to create one of the best vegetable pairings for General Tso Chicken –
    • Black Beach Garlic Sauce.
    • Honey.
    • Sherry.
    • Chili Garlic Sauce.
    • Chopped Scallions – for garnish and taste.

And for something completely different, grab some fresh lettuce to create –

  • Lettuce Wraps for Handheld Healthy Delights – Iceberg lettuce is ideal (although other lettuce options will do and may provide more nutrients) as it is crunchy and sturdy enough to hold your chicken filling. Be sure to remember to add various toppings to those being served so each person can customize their lettuce wrap –
    • Grated Carrot or Daikon Radish.
    • Chopped Spring Onion.
    • Fresh Chilis/Dried Red Pepper Flakes – if someone prefers a bit of heat in their General Tso chicken lettuce wrap.

Balancing Flavors and Nutrition

Achieving a balance of flavors and nutritional value in a meal with General Tso’s Chicken and vegetables involves careful selection of ingredients, portion control, and cooking methods. In addition, be mindful of how you proportion the chicken with your choice of side dish. The correct ratio of protein to side will allow varying textures to provide a contrasting crunch that becomes a satisfying bite with each piece of tender chicken.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Pairing

Preparing the General Tso recipe is fast-moving. So, it is best to prepare all the required ingredients before you begin.

  • Consider Texture – Try to avoid one-note, one-texture meals. Keep the veggie choices crisp to contrast with the succulent chicken.
  • Do Not Choose Incompatible Flavors – Avoid vegetables with flavor profiles that may overpower or even clash with the deep-fried chicken.

Final Words

The vegetables that best pair with General Tso chicken will provide contrasting flavors and textures as these create satisfying and delectable combinations. If you have grown a bit bored with traditional broccoli, try the other options – you might just be surprised at how much you love the vegetables that go with General Tso Chicken.

Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.



You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}