Now, this ain’t no Panda Express. Don’t get me wrong, I even like Panda Express’ orange chicken somewhat – I mean, sure, it’s cloyingly sweet, thick and goopy, but sometimes, the “quick and dirty” version of a dish is just what you want. This was not the case for dinner the other night. I almost didn’t fry the chicken at all, but a light dusting of a dry coating and a quick saute in oil gave us a very lightly crunchy chicken with just an extra layer of flavor and texture.
Orange Chicken (serves 2)
For the sauce:
- juice from one medium orange
- 1/4 c. chicken broth
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
- 2 tsp. corn starch
For the chicken:
- 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 c. cornstarch
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or less if you like it mild)
- zest of one medium orange
- Whisk together all ingredients for orange sauce, and set aside.
- Heat enough vegetable oil to heavily film the bottom of your pan over medium-high heat (I’d say I used between 1/4 – 1/2 c.).
- Whisk cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Toss chicken in this mixture to coat.
- Fry chicken in the vegetable oil until browned on all sides. Remove chicken to a paper-towel covered plate to drain.
- Drain all but a light film of the oil, or, if the oil has lots of the cornstarch/flour mixture in it, drain all the oil, wipe out the pan, and reheat a little oil in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium.
- Saute garlic and ginger in the pan one or two minutes, until fragrant. Add hot pepper flakes and saute several more minutes. Add orange zest and toss to mix briefly. Add chicken and saute briefly until covered evenly by seasonings.
- Whisk sauce mixture to be sure cornstarch is mixed in, and then pour into the pan. Stir constantly until sauce has thickened, and then taste for seasoning. If sauce becomes too thick, add a little water. If sauce is too thin, make a slurry of cornstarch and cold water (mix about 1 tbsp. of cold water with 1 tsp. of cornstarch), pour into sauce, and keep stirring. Repeat as needed, and then taste for seasoning.