Last week I lived the takeout life. I was ordering delivery nearly every day. I even had leftover dumplings for breakfast! It was just one of those weeks.
Luckily, I have several amazing takeout spots near my apartment and they all deliver. Every single one. I suppose that’s one of the perks of living in NYC! And I won’t lie, takeout isn’t an uncommon occurrence for me. I usually give in once or twice per week because it’s so damn easy (and good). Sunday night is typically reserved for Indian food and Game of Thrones. Then there’s the weekly Vanessa’s Dumpling lunch order. My work is obsessed, myself included.
But this past week, I branched out. I even had juice delivered. Juice! I didn’t know that was possible. But the one thing I didn’t order? Chinese. Good Chinese just doesn’t exist within a delivery radius of my house, so of course that’s the one thing I found myself craving all week long.
When it comes to Chinese takeout, there’s no dish I crave more than Orange Chicken. I know, I know. It’s not really Chinese. But I grew up on Panda Express, so it has a special place in my heart, especially when it’s well made.
It turns out that Orange Chicken is incredibly easy to make at home. Don’t let the long ingredient list below scare you! The ingredients are listed by recipe component and many ingredients are listed more than once. I based the recipe on one from Serious Eats and the result is truly a Chinese Takeout Style Orange Chicken, only better. The addition of marinade to the dry coating creates an extra crispy exterior with added surface area for the sauce to cling to. And you’ll definitely want as much sauce on each bite as possible. The sauce is complex with a prominent orange flavor that’s not too sweet. The addition of vinegar and Sriracha add a subtle kick while the cornstarch causes the sauce to thicken while imparting the requisite glossy sheen.
This is definitely a recipe that I’ll be making again soon.
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (about one 1-inch piece)
2 Tbs. dark soy sauce or tamari
3 Tbs. rice vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. roasted sesame seed oil
3 Tbs. Sriracha sauce, if desired
2 tsp. grated zest and ¼ cup juice from 1 orange
1 Tbs. corn starch
⅓ cup wheat beer
Oil for frying
Sliced scallions for garnish
Steamed white or brown rice for serving
Steamed broccoli and snow peas or other vegetables
Whisk egg white in a large bowl until lightly foamy; whisk in soy sauce and beer. Reserve half of marinade in a separate small bowl and set aside for the dry coat later on. Add baking soda and corn starch to the large bowl and whisk to combine; add chicken and coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Combine flour, corn starch, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl; whisk to combine then add the reserved marinade and continue to whisk until coarse clumps form. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and aromatic. Add soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, orange zest, and orange juice; reduce heat to low. In the small bowl previously used for the reserved marinade (this will help limit dishes), whisk together corn starch and beer until no lumps remain. Add to skillet and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
Add enough to a wok or Dutch oven to fry chicken, about 3-inches deep; heat to 350°F. Working in batches to prevent overcrowding, transfer chicken from marinade to dry mixture making sure each piece is thoroughly coated. Carefully place in hot oil and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the temperature to maintain a temperature of 325 to 375°F. Once chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes, transfer to a plate or bowl lined with paper towels. Repeat process until all of the chicken has been cooked.
Add the cooked chicken to the skillet or a large bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.