Chinese Stir Fry: Crispy orange chicken

Next time you reach for that Chinese take out menu – that could mean consumption of monosodium glutamate (MSG) or questionable meat – come here instead.  Because eating healthy doesn’t require giving up those classic convenience meals  (for homemade pizza, check this out).  As for orange chicken stir fry, it’s surprisingly simple to make, and by nature stir fry is a fast dish. Much faster than waiting on the delivery guy… if you know what to do…

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The key to perfect stir fried vegetables is super high heat, just a few drops of oil and quick hands.  You’ll want to keep the ingredients moving once you start cooking – so the first step – which can be done even a day ahead – is to get your vegetables chopped and ready for action. For truly legit Chinese cuisine, always include minced garlic and ginger and sliced scallions.

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You can also get your meat soaking a day ahead in a simple batter of egg whites and cornstarch.  It’s the secret to that crispy coating that absorbs stir fry sauce so nicely.  No need to measure, just add heaping spoons of cornstarch to a couple of egg whites until you have a paste the consistency of pancake batter.  This will get you chicken that fries up light and crispy and ready for sauce…

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Speaking of that sauce… a classic starter is equal parts soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and spicy bean paste.  Salty, sour, sweet and hot.  That’s why Chinese food is so satisfying – it makes every last one of your taste buds happy.  To go orange, add plenty of orange or tangerine zest.  For sesame, use dark brown sugar and finish the dish with toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of dark sesame oil.  But no matter what, to achieve perfect stir fry, keep the pan moving!

Side Note. The picture below is blurry because I never stopped shaking and stirring during cooking, so the Edible Times husband couldn’t get a clear shot of the action!

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And as I’ve already hinted, the recipe below can easily become any flavor you like. Love the Kung Pao or General Tso?  Add as much garlic and/or chile peppers as your buds can handle.  Whatever your fancy, it’s bound to be healthier than what comes in the carton.   And if you play your cards right, you’ll be enjoying a second helping before any delivery can make it to your door.

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Crispy Orange Chicken with Stir Fried Vegetables

makes about 4 servings, double if serving more than 3 full-grown eaters
Ingredients
  • Chicken
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 egg whites
  • Cornstarch
  • A few dashes of soy sauce
  • Vegetable Suggestions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin on a bias, green end saved for garnish
  • 1 red pepper, seeds and rib removed, large dice
  • 1 green pepper, seeds and rib removed, large dice
  • 1 yellow onion, large dice
  • 1 can of water chestnuts, rinsed
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • Sauce
  • Zest of one orange or tangerine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or Mirin
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (less if you like)
  • 1/4 cup spicy bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Slurry
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch and cold water, mixed to heavy cream consistency
  • Canola oil as needed
Instructions
Prepare Ahead
  1. Whisk egg whites, soy sauce and cornstarch to the consistency of pancake batter, adjusting amounts as necessary. Coat chicken in batter, cover and store in refrigerator.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients for stir fry sauce.
Cook
  1. To prepare slurry (thickening agent), combine cornstarch with water in a small bowl until it is about the consistency of heavy cream.
  2. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat half an inch of canola oil over medium-high for several minutes. Fry chicken in batches until golden brown and thoroughly cooked, flipping as needed. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Discard oil and carefully wipe out pan with paper towels or damp kitchen cloth.
  3. Add about two tablespoons of fresh oil to wok or pan, and heat over medium-high. Add garlic, ginger and scallions, and cook for one minute while constantly stirring. Add vegetables in progression, cooking for just a minute or so before adding the next. Begin with any onions and peppers, then add any mushrooms, peas, water chestnuts or cabbage. Never stop stirring!
  4. Add chicken to stir fry, followed by sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir to combine.
  5. Stir slurry to refresh and pour over stir fry. Bring back to a simmer to reach full thickening power.
  6. Garnish with scallions.
Notes
Sssshhh…. one of the secrets to an extra special stir fry is the oyster sauce called for above. You can find it at most grocery stores by the Asian products. Use just a few tablespoons, and it’ll be that thing that makes you go Mmmm!

 

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One Response to Chinese Stir Fry: Crispy orange chicken

  1. Heather H. Jan 30th at #

    Looks yummy! Never tried spicy bean paste, either. On the grocery list for next week…

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