I love Chinese food. I usually shy away from making it at home because I can never get the flavors quite right, but this recipe for Orange Chicken has been making its way around the blogosphere and getting rave reviews, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Boy am I glad I did!
I don't usually order breaded and fried chicken at Chinese restaurants because most of them use mystery meat that's mostly breading anyway. This version has juicy chunks of breast meat. As SP pointed out, restaurant versions are much sweeter whereas this was tangy and spicy, which I preferred. I think I'll add some honey for SP the next time I make it, though. I served the chicken with rice and steamed broccoli.
Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen
For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
6 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
8 thin strips orange peel (optional)
For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut or canola oil
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 3/4 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.
Place the saucepan with the remaining 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.
To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy. In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the 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 Dutch oven until the oil reaches 350 degrees. 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. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
Reheat the sauce and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice.