A popular Chinese-American dish, orange chicken is fried battered cubes of chicken fillet tossed in a sticky syrup made with caramelized sugar, orange zest, rice vinegar, ginger and salt.
To cook orange chicken
- ¼ cup tapioca starch or potato starch or corn starch
- cooking oil
- orange wedges
- thinly sliced scallions
Marinate the chicken
- Pat the chicken fillets dry and cut into two-inch cubes.
- Place the chicken and all the ingredients for the marinade, except the orange, in a bowl and mix well.
- Cut the orange into halves; reserve one portion.
- Finely grate the zest of half an orange and mix into the chicken.
- Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Make the sauce
- Using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler, cut off the zest of the reserved orange half.
- Put the orange zest and all the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pan.
- Cook the sauce over medium heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until syrupy (see notes after the recipe). Set aside.
Fry the chicken
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Take the chicken out of the fridge and stir.
- Take the half orange (from which the zest used in the marinade was taken) and cut into wedges.
- Add the tapioca starch to the chicken and toss to distribute evenly.
- Fry the battered chicken until browned and lightly crisp (see notes after the recipe). Scoop out the chicken and move to a strainer or rack.
Assemble the orange chicken
- Pour off the oil (you may reuse it) from the pan.
- Strain the orange sauce directly into the pan.
- Heat the sauce until bubbly.
- Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and toss them around until each piece is generously coated with the syrupy sauce.
- Stir in the orange wedges.
- Transfer the cooked orange chicken to a shallow bowl, sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve at once.
It takes about ten minutes for the sauce to reach the ideal syrupy stage. It may appear too thin but note that the sauce thickens as it cools so don’t wait for it to turn too thick. Do not overcrowd the pan during frying. If your pan is not large enough to cook all the chicken cubes in a single batch, divide the chicken into portions and fry one portion at a time.