Copy Cat Panda Express Orange Chicken

There is this game I play, all by myself, every day on my way home from work--it's incredibly fun.  It's called See if you can come up with something good for dinner based on only what's in your house, before you pass the last grocery store.  Ever heard of anything that sounds funner?  It consists of scouring recipes/Pinterest at stoplights, and perpetually reminding myself that while I call salad dinner, the sir in my life does not.  Yesterday I planned on having sandwiches for dinner, but then I realized I didn't have satisfactory bread on hand, or really anything to make it more exciting than bread, meat, & lettuce.  And, while an average sandwich like that is acceptable for lunch, I have this notion that a sandwich for dinner needs to be exciting.  Like fancy cheese, avacado, arugula, heirloom tomato-exciting.  So alas, if I made sandwiches I would have to go the the grocery, and lose my game (which I do on pretty much a daily basis.... but I was feeling motivated yesterday!)  Thus, orange chicken was born.  It consists of mostly pantry staples (and because of my inexplicable affinity for Asian food, I had it all on hand...) and comes together pretty quickly.  Plus, it earned a high-five from the sir, so you know it's good.

For the Chicken:
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces

  • 1 egg

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic (garlic powder)

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • Enough oil to fill a large pot at least three inches ~5 cups (use a high temp oil, such as vegetable, canola, peanut, or coconut)

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Tbs gingerroot, minced

  • 1 tsp garlic, minced

  • 1/2 tsp crushed hot red chili pepper or 1 tsp red chili paste (seriously obsessed with this stuff)

  • 1/4 cup water (warm)

  • 1 Tbs corn starch

  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 1/2 Tbs soy sauce

  • 5 Tbs honey, agave, or corn syrup

  • 6 Tbs rice wine vinegar

  • 1 orange, zest of (or 1 tsp orange extract)

Optional Garnishes:
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped

  • Toasted sesame seeds 

  1. In a large pan, heat your oil to 375°F.

  2. In a large zip-lock bag (one you realllly trust) add your egg, zip, and shake to scramble.  Add chicken pieces and shake again to coat the chicken evenly in egg. Carefully, discard excess egg mixture, while leaving the coated chicken in the bag.  

  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the corn starch, flour, salt, white pepper, and granulated garlic.  Slowly add mixture to chicken in bag, periodically resealing the bag and mixing the chicken.  Your chicken does not need to be coated heavily, or uniformly, just ensure that there aren't any completely naked pieces of chicken.

  4. Fry your chicken in batches, 3-4 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate, to absorb excess oil.  

  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add your sesame oil.  Add ginger, garlic, and red chili.  Sautee for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, agave, and orange zest.  Cook over medium heat until it begins to bubble.

  6. In a small bowl, mix your 1/4 cup warm water and corn starch.  Stir into the saucepan, and continue to cook until thickened.  

  7. Turn your stove off, and stir the chicken in until well coated. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds and serve over steamed rice.

Yields 4 servings.

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