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Orange Chicken

A surprisingly simple Asian inspired dish.

BLOG POSTINGS > Everyday Meals

Orange Chicken

by zirbirt

The actual method for making many Asian sauces is very straight forward. Most of them actually use very similar methods and differ mostly on what you put in them. The basic idea is you take a base and boil it down a bit. The base includes your basic flavor. In the case of sweet and sour or other fruit type bases, you usually start with fruit juice. Once it is reduced (concentrated), you then add in sugar and finishing spices.

The basic idea is that flavors that need to be extracted (like peppers, or onion or garlic) are added in for the initial boil, and flavors that are more delicate, or that you want to preserve, are added in toward the end. So when conceiving a sauce based on Asian inspiration, you start by thinking of what flavors you want, and how you want them to appear. Then simply consider how durable those flavorings are.

Lets look at Orange Chicken as an example.

You will need:

The Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1 Egg
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

The Sauce
1 orange (medium sized)
1/2 lemon
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/3 cup rice vinegar (white will do in a pinch)
2 1/2 Tbs Soy Sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbs Cornstarch
3 Tbs Water

Making The Chicken

I start by getting the chicken out of my hair. I simply heat the oven to 400 and slice my breasts into strips. Then sprinkle them with salt and a couple grinds of pepper.



I then take my egg and my milk, and mix them together in a bowl. I put my flour on a paper plate, and my panko bread crumbs on another paper plate. I then set these side by side.

For each strip of chicken, I dredge it in the flour. Then, Dip it in the egg mixture and finally coat it in breadcrumbs. I place each finished strip onto a pan with a baking rack in it..

This goes into the oven for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Making The Sauce

Stage 1 - The Reduction

I am going to discuss a lot of choose your own adventure type paths here. I know, your probably want a straight forward do exactly this, type recipe... but really, you can modify and balance flavor in so many ways, and so specific to your tastes, it just has to be explained.

My first choice is if I want to use the zest from the orange and/or the lemon. Zest (which is basically just grating the most outer layer of the orange or lemon), is like concentrated orange or lemon flavor. I mean it really brings that flavor.. but can also be very over powering. It also tends to bring in some bitters from the fruit. I would say if your a fan of marmalade, or really like powerful orange, then zest. If you like a more mild sauce, then do not zest.

You will be getting a ton of citrus kick in the sauce either way. Zesting will push it to the limits, and might actually be too much for some people... but might be amazing to others.

I start with my medium saucepan over medium heat. I add in my zest (if I am zesting) and I juice one orange and 1/2 a lemon directly into the pan.

(notice, I did zest)

While that heats up, I want to think about what flavors I am adding. I want to consider which ones will survive a reduction in tact, and which ones need to be extracted.

Of the flavors I am adding, I think only the red pepper flakes need to be added in on the reduction. This will allow them to fully extract, but will also lessen the heat from them, while still giving me their full flavor. So I add my peppers and 1 tsp of salt to help counter the bitters from the zest.

Once this comes to a boil, I reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes or so. I just want it to reduce some.. not fully by half.

Stage 2 - The Sauce

Had I decided to use chopped garlic, or onions, or any other "solid" in my reduction. I would need to filter my reduction through a strainer, and possibly cheese cloth. I am going to add garlic flavor, but I opted to cheat and use garlic powder, allowing me to skip the filtering.

So, I remove my reduction from the heat and add in my brown sugar, chicken stock, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic powder.

Again a few choices are sitting here. I use 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar. Light brown sugar will give you a lighter sauce. The amount of sugar you use will, of course, determine how sweet your sauce will end up. You can use up to a cup of brown sugar, and as little as half a cup. I find the full cup to be way to over powering, but the half cup seems a little weak to me. So I settled somewhere neat the middle.

You actually do not have to use chicken stock. You can use water and it will be just fine. I find the chicken stock gives me a little extra flavor.

Now, I bring all this to a boil.

The next choice is when to add my vinegar. The zing from the vinegar will get weaker as we cook it. If you want a strong zing, add the vinegar toward the end.. if you want a weaker zing (like I do), add it right after the sauce comes to a boil.

Now I just reduce the heat let this simmer for about 5 minutes.

In the mean time, I take 3 Tbs of corn starch and combine it with 3 Tbs of water... to make what will look like milk.

I dump this into my pot (after it has simmered for 5 minutes).. and bring it all back up to a boil.

You might be wondering why I stretched the cook time out a bit there. Instead of adding the cornstarch after the initial boil. You can do that, and it is perfectly valid. I stretched it a bit to let all the flavors meld just a little bit better, and to bring down the power of that vinegar.

I let that boil for a couple of minutes.

Then, I take my chicken out of the oven..

I pour my newly created sauce right over the chicken and let it absorb for about 5 minutes.

Then I just put it on some rice and serve.

That's it! Hope you enjoyed this posting. Thanks for reading!















zirbirt
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