A few years ago, I picked up the book Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee, which details the popularity of Chinese food in America and how "traditional" dishes in the States are far cries from the real deal. It's an interesting read, and I highly recommend picking it up. Oh, and hey, Lee has a blog, too, that acts as a live version of the book.
So...what? What I liked about this book is the discussion on General Tsao/Tso, and ensuing discussions on what the dish is originally versus what it is today. For a neat recap, check out Francis Lam's excellent piece on the subject. So, all of this to say, I don't know how authentic Trader Ming's General Tsao stir-fry sauce, but I will say that it is delicious. And more importantly, it's versatile: You get a lot of bang for your buck from this sauce because you can use it a few different ways:
1. Bread some chicken and pour this sauce over it for a "not quite take-out, but it'll do" meal. It also works with tofu, too.
2. Use as a marinade for meat for an interesting twist.
3. Dip your cocktail meatballs in this instead of using the traditional cocktail meatball recipe.
The sauce has a nice balance of sweet and sour flavors, giving it a tangy taste. It's an orange-y, brownish color that also looks pretty in a glass or white ceramic bowl, if you want to get fancy and use it at your next party. This sauce is practically a staple in my house, as we're almost always finding a reason to use it. As for texture, it's fairly thick but pours easily. I totally recommend it, and I think it's one of the best marinades/dips/overall products Trader Joe's offers.
Verdict: 4 out of 4 Hawaiian-print shirts.