If your family is a fan of Chinese food, chances are you’ve ordered a dish called Orange Chicken. There are so many variations of this dish that most people’s culinary experience eating it really depends on each person’s palate. Sometimes the dish will have a strong soy sauce flavor to it. Other times Orange Chicken will be sweet and tangy, almost like a sweet and sour dish. However, this dish can be easily re-created in your home kitchen based on how you like it.
Using ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange zest and juice, and oyster sauce as a base, you can adjust this sauce to your liking. Whenever I’m cooking stir-fry, I like to make the sauce first. Generally speaking, I always recommend to people when making a stir-fry sauce to taste as you go, tweaking it until you’re happy with it.
Now, if you’ve ever ordered Orange Chicken from a Chinese fast-food chain with a Panda as its logo, then you are familiar with how sweet and spicy their version is. This version is not that dish. However, if you prefer a similar type of flavor, feel free to sweeten your sauce up with sugar, honey, agave, etc. Personally speaking, I like to add two tablespoons of granular evaporated cane juice. This helps with slightly caramelizing the sauce making it thicker, but I wouldn’t say it makes the sauce sickly sweet. Once again, taste as you go and make the changes you want to make this sauce your own. Like it spicy? Add red pepper flakes. Like it with more orange flavor, add more zest. Fan of garlic, add a few more cloves. Be as creative as you want to be.
Lastly, I would like to offer this tip when it comes to vegetables. Some vegetables should be slightly cooked before adding to the stir-fry. These vegetables would include large broccoli crowns, green beans, and largely cubed root vegetables. By cooking them first, the texture is more ideal for stir-frying with softer vegetables like mushroom, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced onions, carrots, etc.
Orange Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- optional sweetener like sugar, honey, agave, etc.
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 pound chicken tender cut into cubes
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup medium yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cups chopped vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, celery, mushroom, snap peas, etc.
- Blend all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender or food processor for 10 seconds.
- Taste the sauce and add your choice of sweetener to your liking.
- Blend again for a few more seconds.
- Heat the sauce in a large skillet on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the sauce to a heat proof bowl.
- Rinse the skillet clean.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Add the corn starch and massage the chicken with your hands.
- If using fresh broccoli or green beans, boil the broccoli for 3-5 minutes until soft enough to pierce with a fork yet firm.
- Transfer the vegetables to a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Wipe down the skillet until dry.
- Heat approximately 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet on medium-high heat.
- Cook the onion and chicken until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry them together for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add a few tablespoons of sauce while stirring the vegetables and chicken.
- Continue to add the sauce a few tablespoons at a time, allowing about 15 seconds between each addition to allow sauce to slightly cook down.
- Spoon the stir-fry over a bowl of hot rice. Serve immediately.