Orange chicken my be considered Chinese cuisine in North America, but the dish is rarely found on a kitchen table or in a Chinese restaurant in China.
Cherng says that orange chicken is just a variation of General Yao’s Chicken, another dish that is almost unknown in China.
Jennifer Lee an American journalist who previously worked for the New York Times wrote saying that General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken are Americanized mutations of sweet and sour dishes found in China.
According to Lift Enrichment, orange chicken originally was not coated with flour or a starch, like cornstarch.
The orange sauce was made of leftover orange or lemon peels cooked with soy sauce, chilis and garlic.
The sauce had a citrus element, but it wasn’t as pronounced or sweet like it is today.
The sweetness of orange chicken today was introduced to cater to American tastes.
In 2013, Panda Express reported that it sold more than 65 million pounds of Orange Chicken.
What To Know Before Cooking Your Orange Chicken & Peppers
It’s an easy stir-fry to prepare. It’s made mostly with kitchen staple ingredients that goes from pantry to table in 30 minutes.
If you like Panda Express’s Orange Chicken, then you will love this richly flavored recipe.
Make it for half the price and none of the guilt with extra added ingredients (which most restaurant recipes add).
Read More About Cooking with Chicken Thighs
Orange Chicken & Peppers
6 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika (to add color to chicken)
Neutral oil for frying, such as refined avocado oil or olive oil *See Note Below
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tsp. orange zest
Orange zest from 1 orange
*Note – A refined oil is flavorless and odorless and has a high smoke point. It will not overpower or distract from the flavors of other ingredients in a recipe.
Know More About The Smoke Point of Oils
Cooking The Orange Sauce
To prepare the orange chicken sauce, bring all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and whisk together until incorporate.
Heat a skillet over medium-low and simmer the sauce until it thickens.
Cut the boneless skinless chicken thighs into 1/2 inch chunks.
Toss the chicken pieces in a bowl and coat with the flour, corn starch, black pepper, onion powder, salt and ginger powder.
Optional to add a little paprika to make the color of the chicken come out a little more orange after frying.
Add oil to a deep frying pan. After oil had heated up, add flour/starch coated chicken pieces leaving some space between them to avoid over crowding.
Fry pieces for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Do not over cook the chicken. This will make them chewy.
Drain fried chicken pieces of excess oil using a spider strainer spoon and add the pieces to the cooked orange sauce.
Mix the chicken pieces with the sauce and cook together for 1-2 minutes.
Optional to serve the Orange Chicken & Peppers over rice or rice noodles.
Try these Asian inspired dishes –
- Asian Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
- Asian Beef with Peppers and Green Onions
- Asian Pear Carrot and Daikon Radish Sprouts
More Deliciously Yummy Recipes