Popular Chinese Food Dishes That Don’t Even Originate From China

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Chinese takeout is pretty much amazing, lets just face it. I’m always freaked out by someone who doesn’t enjoy a little tasty Chinese food. Anyways, not all Chinese food dishes that are offered by Chinese food restaurants actually originate from China.

Here are four classic Chinese food takeout dishes that have nothing to do with China – but boy ol’ boy do they taste good!

1. Cashew Chicken

Well, hate to burst your bubble on this one, but this dish was actually created in the middle of America, in Missouri actually.

Chef David Leong moved to Missouri after he served in WWII and began offering up some traditional Cantonese dishes…but people were not digging those so much. So he took that style of cooking and tossed in a little bit of the Ozark way of cooking and voila – the dish was born.

Many stir fries use boiled chicken, but Leong decided to fry the chicken and cut it up into bite size pieces, he then made that famous oyster sauce to top the stir fry and it was known as ‘Springfield Cashew Chicken’. The dish became uber famous and somehow landed on Chinese takeout menus across America.

2. Egg Foo young

Egg Foo Young is a classic dish filled with meats, veggies and egg. While there are similar dishes such as this in China – egg based – this delicious concoction did not originate in China. In fact, the dish was created to attempt to mimic a hearty American breakfast pancake. Chinese immigrants working during the California gold rush found that rations were quite scarce. So they created a dish using scraps. They would mix these scraps of meat and vegetables into an egg batter and fry it until it was nice and crispy! Then they would cover the dish with gravy! It was a cheap and easy way to keep the miners fed!

3. Orange Chicken

This classic dish was actually created in 1987 by the executive chef of Panda Express, Andy Kao. He created a dish with fried chicken nuggets that were coated with sweet and sour sauce with a little hint of orange. People absolutely loved it and it spread like wildfire across America and around the globe. But it did not come from Chinese cuisine.


4. General Tso’s Chicken

Executive chef Tsung Ting Wang was planning his menu when he sort of took inspiration from a dish he had tasted in Taipei. Seeing a Hunan dish in a famous restaurant in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, owned by a renowned chef Chang Kei Peng, Wang looked at the idea and ran with it.

Once living in the United States, he altered the recipe, making the chicken crispier and the sauce sweeter. Peng, who went to open up a restaurant in Manhattan the following year, was angered to see his dish already being eaten. In Manhattan Peng was accused of ripping off Wang, even though it was the other way around. Peng, like Wang, made his version of General Tso’s sweeter. Although it may come from a dish in Taiwan, the flavors and textures are very far from the original Taiwanese recipe.