Serious Sandwiches: General Tso's Philly Cheesesteak

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Photograph of General Tso's Philly Cheesesteak from DJ Grocery

Coming up with a theme for this week's sandwich should have been easy. Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, but po'boys have been pretty well covered here on Serious Eats. It was also Super Tuesday, but I couldn't seem to find any mention of candidates' favorite sandwiches. Tomorrow is the start of the Chinese New Year, but "Year of the Rat" does not exactly make for sandwich inspiration.

Settling on Chinese New Year (I have a well-documented addiction to Asian food), I considered writing about the famous chop suey sandwich in Salem, Massachusetts, but that's not exactly a beacon of Chinese culture. There are examples of slightly less Americanized Chinese sandwiches, using bing (a Chinese dough/bread that often comes covered in sesame seeds) or mantou (the fluffy steamed bun often cut and stuffed like a sandwich). But in doing research for those, I came across this monstrosity: the General Tso's Philly cheesesteak. How could I not?

Conceived by the St. Louis–based, and aptly named, DJ Grocery, I discovered the story behind the General Tso's Philly cheesesteak on CrossFadeBacon.com. The whole thing started at Penn Station East Coast Subs, a St. Louis chain, with the acquisition of a regular steak sandwich with onions and peppers, hold the cheese (you'll find out why later). Then, the DJ took his sandwich to China Wok (no idea which one, and quite frankly, does it really matter?), where he was allowed to sauté his own order of General Tso's chicken (apparently, he used to work there), which was placed piping hot on top of the steak, peppers, and onions. If you're following along at home, here's where the instructions get a little crazy:

Get 3 or 4 raw crab rangoons, remove the cheese and spread on the inside of the top half of the bun

Are you kidding me? This guy is my new hero—although I have to wonder why he just didn't add fried crab rangoons to the thing. I mean, if you're going to do it, you might as well do it. What does this have to do with Chinese New Year? Absolutely nothing. But, if there are Chinese New Year's resolutions (i.e. lose weight), this would be the sandwich I'd want to eat on the last day of the year.

About the author: Zach Brooks is the proprietor of Midtown Lunch, where he blogs about affordable lunchtime eats in Midtown Manhattan. The guy knows his sandwiches.

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