Imagine yourself in the following situation- you’re in a Chinese restaurant, it can be a sit-down place, fast food, whatever. You’re trying to make a decision about what to eat. Noodles or rice? Spicy or tangy? Whether you realize it or not, the real question you’re trying to answer is what do I want on my plate along with orange chicken? It’s fantastic and an absolute staple at Chinese restaurants in the U.S.
Here are the ingredients:
For the chicken
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Oil for frying (I used vegetable oil and just a teeny bit of sesame oil)
For the orange sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup orange juice (I fresh squeezed some for this recipe and used a few orange chunks as well)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange zest (easy, if you squeezed your own orange juice)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger root
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (I decided not to use the green onions, but you can)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water (separate from the other water)
To begin, I had to set up 3 dipping stations: one with the eggs, one with the cornstarch, salt and pepper mixed, and one with the bread crumbs. Dip a piece of chicken into the eggs first, once coated dip into the cornstarch. I found it useful to have a second utensil like a spoon to get the chicken fully coated. Then transfer the chicken to the bread crumbs. It’s harder to get these coated but if you put a light layer of crumbs on a plate, then place the thrice dipped chicken on the plate, more will be stuck on the chicken when you’re ready to fry.
Once the chicken is all dipped and coated it’s time to fry. Make sure the oil is around 375 F. Don’t go higher than this, you’ll burn your chicken and your skin. DANGER!!! So, just be smart and careful. With the chicken cut into such small portions it fried up fairly quickly.
The sauce was a fairly easy process. I stirred the 1 1/2 cups water, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce in a pot on medium heat. Once it was mixed well and I could smell it I stirred in the brown sugar, ginger, garlic, orange zest, and red pepper flakes, then brought it to a boil.
I mixed the 3 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir gently, you’re dealing with a non-Newtonian fluid here. I stirred this into the pot and the sauce started to thicken. It was then ready to pour over the chicken.
It was really fun to make my own orange chicken and it tasted great. For me, it was a time consuming recipe because I’m still new to the kitchen but with practice I’m sure I can cut the prep time down. Still, it’s not a recipe to try unless you have more time to cook. If you live in the Salt Lake Valley check out dailygoods.com to have all of the ingredients delivered to your door. Happy cooking!