7 Chinese Foods That Aren’t Really Chinese

1. General Tso’s Chicken. While the dish was named after a real 19th century Hunanese general, he certainly never ate anything resembling the sticky-sweet dish that we know in the west, according to the Smithsonian. Invented by Peng Chang-kuei, a chef from China’s Hunan province, he first served it in his restaurant in Taiwan. Generations of chefs put their own twists on the dish and in New York in the 1970s, Tsung Ting Wang added sugar and the crispier batter and gave us westerners what we know today as General Tso’s Chicken.

2. Egg Rolls. Egg rolls in China are what we know as ‘spring rolls’ in the west; they’re wrapped in thin, delicate wrapper and lightly fried to a golden brown. In American restaurants, egg rolls are massive with a thicker wrapper. According to Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States”, the egg roll was probably invented in New York in the 1930s.



3. Chop Suey. According to the History Channel, the dish was created in California during the Gold Rush when a bunch of drunken miners bowled in and demanded food. The exhausted chefs went into the back, scraped the food off previous customer’s dishes, splashed on a little soy sauce, and presented it to the miners as “shap sui” – meaning “mixed pieces” in Cantonese.

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