I decided to try my hand at making that famous take-out orange chicken maybe 10 years ago for a few reasons. 1. I wanted white meat, not that sometimes strangely grey-purple “thigh?” meat they use. 2. It was one of my then-boyfriend, now husband’s favorite dishes, and 3. If I can make something fresh, myself, I’m going to and you should too!
Over the years I’ve made tweaks that have resulted in a more juicy, flavorful outcome like increasing the amount of orange sauce and seasoning the chicken, not just the egg wash. I’ve gone through the trial and error and made the mistakes so you don’t have to.
At first I was a little taken aback by the number of ingredients I needed – so here’s a forewarning – don’t be alarmed by the list you see below. I was able to get all of them in my local supermarket, no specialty store necessary. And once I had these ingredients I was able to put them to good use in tons of other delicious recipes. So stay with me.
The next part of this recipe I want to prepare you for is the cooking steps. Read over the directions and familiarize yourself with them. Next, I want you to separate the chicken-frying part and the sauce-making parts in your mind and your process, otherwise you might get nervous when you read below.
Season and fry your chicken in batches as detailed below, set it aside. Don’t worry about it getting a little cold, it will heat right back up when being tossed and sautéed in the orange sauce.
Now for the sauce. The best way to handle this fast-moving, multi-step process is to prepare. Divvy out your ingredients and have them ready to grab and go because once you start adding ingredients to the pan, things will move quickly.
Once you’re done, you’re going to have finger-licking, sticky, tangy orange chicken you know and love, but amplified by fresher, cleaner flavors.
Let me know what you think?! Is there something about this recipe that makes you nervous to try it? Are you adding this recipe to your list of “must-try”s? Once you’ve made a batch, let me know how it turns out! Post a photo and tag me @YolandeKelly so I can see and share!
2 lbs boneless skinless chickenbreast or thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
1 cup cornstarch
1⁄2 cup flour
THE ORANGE SAUCE:
1 cup soy sauce
The zest of 1 orange
The juice of ½ an orange
5 tablespoons white vinegar
¼ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons grated gingerroot
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1⁄2cup green onion, chopped
¼ cup rice wine
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ teaspoon sesame oil (if desired)
Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes.
In a large bowl, season chicken pieces with 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon white pepper, set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir egg, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil and mix well, set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1cup of the cornstarch and the flour.
Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep-fryer or pot with high sides to 375 degrees.
Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture, then into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
Fry chicken in small batches for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.
(Do not overcook chicken).
Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside.
Repeat until all chicken has been fried.
FOR THE SAUCE:
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice and zest, vinegar, water and sugar. Set aside.
Clean wok or pan and heat 15 seconds over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium high and add 1 tablespoon oil, the gingerroot, garlic, crushed red chili pepper flakes and ½ of the green onions and stir-fry over medium heat for just a few secondsuntil fragrant.
Now, add the rice wine and the soy sauce mixture you set aside earlier. Return heat to high and simmer for about 1 minute.
Add the cooked chicken, stirring until all pieces are thoroughly coated in the sauce. (The sauce will still be thin at this point, but we’re about to thicken it up and make it the sticky, tangy, sweet sauce you know and love.)
In a small bowl, stir together the water and cornstarch, then add it to the wok and stir until sauce has thickened. Add a splash of sesame oil if desired and stir to combine.
Top with the remainder of the chopped green onions and serve with steamed rice, or try my Quick and Easy Fried Rice recipe.