In a move that proves just how not on top of my social media game I am, I didn't take any pictures of this recipe - not before, not after, not ever. Rookie mistake, since Social Media 101 says that people like pictures and you'll get more views with pictures. Oh well... I can tell you, it ends up looking similar to orange chicken you would get at any (Americanized) Chinese restaurant. I realize this is probably nothing like anything that you would get an an authentic Chinese restaurant and that's OK. My family loved it and that is what matters for me.
Be forewarned, this recipe is very hands on - you will be in the kitchen, actively doing things, for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. If it's 80+ degrees out and your air conditioner is far from top notch, you will probably be sweating. But it's worth it if you all like Orange Chicken.
My husband loves the Orange Chicken at Panda Express and swears this tasted right on par with theirs. I wouldn't know, as I don't think I have ever had it (I know, crazy, right?) I'm so glad he liked it because I made it mainly for him. He will be leaving soon on a very long deployment and he won't be around to taste my culinary creations, so I wanted to be sure he got a chance to try this one before he left. On top of the fact that he and I loved it, our 4 year old had seconds of it as well. It was truly a culinary success!! :-)
My recipe was based in part on a few different recipes I found online, but I did make a few tweaks and kind of merged a few recipes together. Below is my result:
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 egg
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp oil (I used EVOO), plus more oil for frying
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup flour
A.) Items to mix together in a cup or small bowl (in step 7):
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp water
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 5 drops of doTerra Wild Orange essential oil (or some orange zest)
B.) Additional sauce items:
- 1 tbsp oil
- ½ tbsp fresh minced ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp crushed hot red chili pepper
- ¼ cup onion, chopped (I used the pre-chopped frozen onions to save a step)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch, divided
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together the egg, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp of oil. Mix well. Stir in the chicken pieces.
- In medium bowl, stir together the flour and ½ cup cornstarch. Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat (the chicken will not look like "breaded" chicken - it will just look like a gross egg coated mess - this is perfect).
- Heat oil in a frying pan - you just need a small coating in the bottom of the pan.
- Add the chicken, small batches at a time, and fry for 2-3 minutes EACH SIDE until golden crisp (but avoid overcooking the chicken). When done remove the chicken from the oil with tongs and drain on paper towels.
- Put the chicken in a 13"x9" pan and heat in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. This keeps it all hot while you prepare the sauce.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the orange sauce.
- Clean the wok or frying pan and heat for 15 seconds over high heat. Lower to medium high and add 1 tbsp of oil.
- Add the ginger and garlic and stir try until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
- Add the crushed chiles and onions, stirring for a few seconds.
- Add the orange sauce and bring to a boil.
- Stir the 1 tbsp of cornstarch into the water, add this mix to the sauce and heat until thickened. You may want to add a bit more water, depending on how thick you like your sauce.
- Add the cooked chicken, stirring until well coated with the sauce.
- Turn off the stove and add a few more drops of orange oil (or zest), to taste.
- Serve over your favorite rice (we chose simple white rice).
By the way, for those with little ones - you can make just the "crispy chicken" this way without the sauce and serve it to them with their favorite dipping sauce. That is how our younger daughter enjoyed her dinner. They're kind of like chicken nuggets except that you're missing all the gross nasty things mushed together that nuggets are usually made of. So it's kind of a win there, right? At some point, I'm going to test whether these nuggets are freezable and re-heatable, at which point I could just make a large batch of these nuggets to heat up for an easy dinner some night. I will post my results when I get around to that...
As a side note, you can use orange zest in place of the essential oil. The essential oil is concentrated and full of flavor, making for an easy recipe ingredient. You can order some here, from doTerra.