Orange chicken, a dish of Hunan origin, is a popular Chinese dish in the United States. I feel quite confident that if you were to travel to China and order orange chicken from a restaurant, you’d get a very different meal than you’d get from the likes of the Panda Express.
Because I’ve never eaten authentic Chinese food in China, I can’t tell you where this falls on the spectrum, but I can tell you that it’s delicious and better than anything that the Chinese delivery man has ever brought to my door.
At first glance, it might look like a complicated recipe, but if you look at the recipe in terms of three simple steps, it will be easier to conquer. Make the orange sauce, make the batter and chicken, and finally, put it all together.
Those new to deep frying should watch an instructional video or two on YouTube to avoid burning yourself or burning your oil, but once you’ve done it one time you’ll want to deep fry everything you see (note: we are not endorsing the desire to deep fry everything you see, but we are also not opposed to it on principle).
For the Chicken
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Orange Sauce
- Oil for deep-frying (recommended: corn oil)
- Salt and sugar, to taste
- Chopped scallion, for garnishing
- White sesame, for garnishing
For the Batter:
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup water, ice cold
- ½ tablespoon cooking oil
- Dash of salt
For the Orange Sauce
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce (optional)
- ⅓ cup tablespoons chicken broth (substitution: water)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (substitution: white vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine vinegar (substitution: white vintager)
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- In a bowl, mix in all the Orange Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- In another bowl, mix the batter for the chicken, whisking until the batter is smooth and free of any lumps. Place the chicken in the bowl, mix well until all chicken pieces are covered and set aside. Drop in the chicken cubes, mix well, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat your oil (about 1-inch in the pan) for deep frying in a large wok. Add the chicken cubes, one at a time, avoiding any overcrowding in the wok.
- Cook chicken until the color changes to golden brown and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 165 degrees F (test the thickest/fattest piece). Place chicken on paper towels to drain excess oil and remove hot oil from wok.
- To prepare the completed dish, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in your wok ove medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring to keep the garlic from burning.
- Slowly add the orange sauce to the wok and stir, bringing the mixture to a low simmer. If your sauce is too thick, you can add a little extra water. If that makes it too runny, adding corn starch one teaspoon at a time will thicken it.
- Add the deep-fried chicken to the sauce and stir well until sauce is absorbed and lightly thickened (you'll want it thicker than gravy, but thin enough to pour). Serve immediately with hot steamed white rice. Garnish with green onions, if desired.