Introduction to Orange Chicken
Orange chicken is a popular American-Chinese dish that is beloved for its tangy, sweet and savory flavors. It's a perfect balance of citrus, sweetness, and a hint of spice that makes it an irresistible meal option. In this article, I will share with you the best recipe for Orange Chicken that I've come across in my culinary journey. So let's dive in and explore the world of orange chicken, one delicious bite at a time.
The History of Orange Chicken
Orange chicken is believed to have originated from the Hunan Province in China, where it was called "tangerine peel chicken." The dish was later adapted by Chinese-American immigrants and became a staple in American-Chinese cuisine. Its popularity has grown over the years, and now you can find it in most Chinese restaurants in the United States. The best part about this dish is that it's easy to make, and the ingredients are readily available in most grocery stores.
Ingredients for the Perfect Orange Chicken
Preparing the perfect orange chicken requires a few essential ingredients that give the dish its unique, mouth-watering taste. These include:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
- Orange juice and zest
- Soy sauce
- White vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Green onions
- Red pepper flakes (optional for added spice)
Once you have gathered all the necessary ingredients, it's time to start cooking!
Preparing the Chicken
The first step in making orange chicken is to prepare the chicken. Start by cutting the boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs into bite-sized pieces. Then, in a large bowl, mix together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Toss the chicken pieces in the cornstarch mixture until they are evenly coated. This will give the chicken a light and crispy coating when fried.
Next, heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken pieces to the skillet, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
Creating the Orange Sauce
Now it's time to create the delicious orange sauce that gives this dish its signature flavor. In a medium saucepan, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, white vinegar, brown sugar, minced garlic, and grated ginger. If you like a little heat in your orange chicken, feel free to add some red pepper flakes as well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves.
In a separate small bowl, mix together a tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Add this slurry to the boiling sauce, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens. Once the sauce reaches your desired consistency, remove it from the heat and set aside.
Combining the Chicken and Sauce
Now that your chicken is cooked and your sauce is ready, it's time to combine the two. Add the fried chicken pieces back into the skillet or wok, and pour the orange sauce over the top. Cook the chicken and sauce together over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the chicken is evenly coated in the sauce. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and has absorbed some of the sauce.
Garnishing and Serving Orange Chicken
Your orange chicken is almost ready to serve! Before serving, garnish the dish with some freshly grated orange zest and chopped green onions. This not only adds a pop of color and flavor but also enhances the overall presentation of the dish. Serve your orange chicken over a bed of steamed rice or noodles, and enjoy the tangy, sweet, and savory flavors of this delicious American-Chinese classic.
Orange chicken is a crowd-pleaser that's perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. With this recipe in hand, you can create a restaurant-quality dish in the comfort of your own home. So go ahead and give it a try – I promise it will become a favorite in your household, just like it has in mine. Bon appétit!