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Monday Meals: Take-out Chinese Orange Chicken

I’m going to throw you another Chinese dish this week but this time I chose one that Dee LOVES.  Yep, that was with a capital L, capital O, capital V, and capital E.  Orange Chicken is a favorite in our household.  It’s super bad for you but super good!  We usually go for the frozen Trader Joe’s orange chicken because, well, it’s easy and it’s to.die.for.  But since China doesn’t really have a Trader Joe’s right next door, I figured I’d look up a recipe and try my hand at homemade. *You’re welcome for the plug Trader Joe’s*

I used this recipe from Annie’s Eats (don’t put in the cayenne if you’re kids are really opposed to spicy food – Dee can deal with mild spice and I don’t think you can even taste spice after the sweet sauce is added but . . . you know your kids best!).

Orange Chicken

Ingredients:
For the marinade and sauce:
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest
6 tbsp. white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar (dark or light)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut or canola oil (I like a combination)

Directions:

  • To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well.
  • Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag.  Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well.  Refrigerate and let marinate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.

Marinate the Chicken in 3/4 cup of sauce

  • Start white sticky rice (short grain) on the stove or in a rice cooker and cook while preparing the rest of the meal.
  • To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy.  In a plastic bag combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend.
  • Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander or large strainer; pat dry with paper towels (make sure they’re really dry!).  Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat.  Transfer the pieces to the plastic bag with cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
  • To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F.  Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Fry the cornstarch dredged chicken in peanut oil

  • In a saucepan put the remaining sauce mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.
  •  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce.  Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.
  • Add the chicken pieces once your sauce is nice and gooey.  Serve on top of white rice (to soak up all the fabulous sauce).

I’ve also seen people substitute freshly squeezed orange juice for store bought orange juice and I guess this gives the dish more of a “take-out” taste (sweeter?) but I haven’t personally tried it.

This recipe was delicious but my chicken didn’t come out nice and “popcorny” like the Trader Joe’s, only because what I thought was cornstarch in the Chinese supermarket was not!  The sauce was so good that it didn’t make much difference (and it actually countered the spice that I had inadvertantly bought and coated my chicken in, which tasted like supercharged chicken broth – weird because it looked white and had the consistency of cornstarch) so I bet with actual cornstarch it’s great!  *FAIL*!

Mine looked like this . . . . mmmmmm. LOL.

Back to the supermarket with a translation for cornstarch.  What’s that you say? Yes. I should have done that in the first place?  Oh, you guys and your “practicalness”! LOL.

Next week . . . apple pancakes (away from this Chinese food already! We KNOW meg is in China but everyone else is in the US)!

meg

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2 Responses

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this dish but you do not have permission to use my photo. Please remove it promptly. Thanks for your cooperation.

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