Orange Chicken – quick, easy and baked, not fried; a very flavourful version of this Chinese style take-out dish that uses economical frozen orange juice concentrate as the base of the tangy sauce.
This Chinese take-out style of orange chicken seems to be everywhere on Pinterest and food sites these days. I am constantly seeing some version of it in my newsfeed on Facebook too. As a kid, I first began cooking even before my teens. I was known to be a pretty big experimenter with common ingredients at our house.
This recipe came from one of those early experiments and was probably even simpler back in the day. My brilliant idea at the time to get intense orange flavour into the sauce was to use frozen orange juice concentrate. Coming from a family of 8, this was also the most economical choice as well.
I modelled that first sauce after a sweet and sour chicken recipe we used to make from common ingredients too, and it turned out pretty well. These days I add a few more flavour elements to it like a little toasted sesame oil and Chinese Five Spice powder.
While many of the recipes you will find for this dish, fry the small nuggets of chicken, I’ve borrowed the idea from our very popular recipe for another Chinese take-out classic, General Tso Chicken, and quickly baked it using a minimum amount of oil. I’ve also used a smaller amount of natural honey in this recipe which adds a lot to the flavour of the dish, rather than refined sugar which would be used in may restaurant versions.
We served the orange chicken over some thin Chinese Noodles but plain steamed rice would be equally as good. We all enjoyed my little flashback to my early cooking days and it goes to show that you can always keep improving on your favourite recipes, even 40 years later.
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- 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 8 boneless skinless well-trimmed chicken thighs)
- tbsp a few peanut or canola oil
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp powdered ginger
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- 1 egg + 2 Tbsp water
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp peanut oil or canola oil
- 1 1/4 cups frozen orange juice concentrate Approximately. I used a 295 ml container
- 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 2 tsp crushed chili paste or chili flakes to taste
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Heat a cookie sheet in the oven at 425 degrees F. This speeds up the cooking time later.
Cut the chicken into about 2-bite pieces and season them lightly with salt and pepper
Sift together the flour, salt, pepper, powdered ginger and five spice powder.
Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
Dredge the chicken pieces into the flour dredge to coat them, then dip the pieces into the egg wash and back into the flour and spice dredge again.
Working quickly, retrieve the cookie sheet from the oven and lightly brush the entire bottom with the oil. Add the coated chicken pieces to the pan but don't crowd them together. They should not be touching. Lightly drizzle a little more oil over the chicken pieces. A spray bottle works well for this too.
Pop the chicken into the oven for 8 minutes. Take the pan out and turn the chicken pieces over before putting them back into the oven for another 7-8 minutes. Cut one open to see that they are fully cooked. This should be plenty of time at that temperature.
Toss the cooked chicken pieces wight he sauce and serve over steamed rice or Chinese noodles.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions if you like.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, quickly sauté the garlic in the peanut oil for only a minute or so.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot, except the cornstarch and water.
Bring the sauce to a slow simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir the cornstarch into the water and immediately add it to the sauce stirring constantly. Simmer for only another minute, stirring constantly before serving.
We most often serve steamed vegetables on the side with this dish but if you like, you can also toss in red peppers, cooked green beans or snow peas, water chestnuts, or steamed broccoli with the chicken when adding the sauce. Use any combination of vegetables you like to make this a complete meal.