On Saturdays, I feel like we either have all the time in the world to make dinner, or we have nearly zero time at all. On one particular Saturday this month, we found ourselves with zero plans, and a serious craving for Chinese food. It was then when we finally tried this recipe I had been dreaming of, and it seriously didn't disappoint!
The process seemed a little tedious with the whole battering-dunking-dipping-frying method, but each step is important, and made these little orange chicken pieces taste exactly like we were eating at Panda Express (only much better, in our opinion). The best part of this recipe is the glaze. OH that glaze. I could dream all day about that glaze! It uses freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest, freshly grated ginger, and has just the right mouthwatering zing that leaves you wanting to fill your plate with another helping!
The fresh ginger is key. You can find it in the produce section (looks like nasty light brown roots, and the guy/lady at the check-out stand will probably ask you twenty times what it is). It has so much more flavor than the dried powdered ginger stuff, and is less expensive, too. We also used some Simply Orange juice for the orange juice, and used the zest of half an orange to enhance the deep rich citrus flavor of the sauce/marinade. Which reminds me - this chicken is not only coated in the sauce after cooking, but it's marinated in it beforehand. This makes the flavor shoot right through the roof! Also, the recipe calls for quite a bit of cornstarch, but that's key to getting that perfect crispy and gooey batter/coating on these little babies. It's that familiar crunch you've had before at Panda, and will completely seal the deal to making this the perfect copycat recipe.
I know there's a lot of orange chicken recipe out there, but seriously, this one should be at the very top of your list! The recipe has more than just a few steps, but each step is so simple, and really help you appreciate each savory bite of orange zesty goodness. So if you have a free weeknight or a long Saturday, grab a loved one and make this amazing dish (don't forget to try it with the perfect Panda Express Chow Mein Copycat recipe, too!) We had so much fun making it together on such a long Saturday afternoon. And it makes the. best. leftovers, too. (If you're lucky enough to have any!)
Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat
makes 4-5 servings
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 C + 2 T cornstarch, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
1 C vegetable oil
1 C chicken broth
1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C distilled white vinegar
1/4 C soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T orange zest
1 t Sriracha
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 t sesame seeds
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1. Make the sauce/marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, orange zest, Sriracha, ginger and white pepper in a large bowl. In a large tupperware or large gallon-size Ziploc bag, combine the chicken and 2/3 cup of the marinade. Set the rest of the marinade/sauce aside. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Drain the chicken from the marinade, and discard the marinade that was with the chicken.
2. Heat the sauce: Heat the remaining unused marinade in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water in a small cup. Pour into boiling sauce and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Turn heat down to low to keep warm while preparing the chicken.
3. Coat the chicken: Dip the chicken in to the eggs, then toss in cornstarch, pressing to coat. Working one by one gets a little tedious, so if you need to do 2 or 3 at a time, it's fine. Remember to use one hand for dry ingredients and one hand for wet so you don't get messy from the batter.
4. Heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, add chicken and fry until golden brown and completely cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined-plate and discard excess oil. If oil becomes too dark, drain and wipe out pan, and use new oil.
5. Drizzle chicken with heated sauce, garnish with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve with chow mein or rice.
recipe adapted from: Cooking Classy via Damn Delicious