Tender, chewy, crispy, citrusy, sweet, tangy and spicy all in one. Chinese Orange Chicken, a dish of chopped, battered, and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored, caramelized chili sauce, is a highly popular Chinese fast food dish of Hunan origin. This version is a little truer to authentic origins in that it isn’t as goopey as some Chinese-American restaurant versions. Deliciously tasty with an accompanying kick, you’ll soon become the go-to for Chinese take-out among your family and friends!
This Daring Gourmet version was developed by request for Danette McGee Farmer via our Make a Request! forum. She specifically requested a version that is full of flavor. Danette, I think you’ll be very happy with this recipe!
Let’s get started on that delicious Chinese Orange Chicken!
Chop up the chicken in 1/2 inch pieces. We’re now going to proceed with a Chinese stir-frying method known as “velveting” to achieve a nice coating for the chicken. To velvet the chicken, combine the egg white, cornstarch, sherry, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken to a sealable bag and pour the velveting marinade over it. Swish to combine. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.
Next let’s prepare the chicken. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, shaking off the excess liquid, and give them another in some cornstarch. Heat some oil in high in a wok, deep fryer, or heavy skillet. Carefully lower the chicken into the oil and fry on both sides until a crispy golden brown. Set the chicken on paper towels to soak up the grease.
Break up the red chiles into pieces and discard the seeds. Be very careful here to avoid touching the seeds (using gloves is recommended). Once you touch the seeds with your fingers they can really burn – avoid all contact with your face and eyes. Combine all remaining ingredients except for the ginger, garlic and green onions.
Heat about a teaspoon of oil on medium-high heat to a wok or large saucepan and saute the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients, except for the green onions. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken and green onions and simmer for another 5 minutes to ensure the chicken is fully cooked and the coating has absorbed the flavor of the sauce.
Serve immediately (to retain the ideal texture) with steamed rice. Garnish with fresh orange slices (optional).
* For a vegetarian/vegan version, see instructions below the recipe.
Asian food lovers, don’t forget to check out this recipe for the Best Homemade Teriyaki Sauce!
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch pieces (vegetarian/vegan: see instructions below recipe box and picture)
- 2 egg whites (vegetarian/vegan: omit and follow instructions below recipe box and picture)
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sherry or rice vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- For the sauce:
- 1½ cup strong chicken broth (vegetarian/vegan: use vegetable broth)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2½ tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 red chiles, broken up and seeds discarded (or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- Fresh orange slices (optional)
- Combine the egg whites, cornstarch, salt, sherry, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour over chicken in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, shake off the excess liquid, and give them another roll in some cornstarch.
- Heat about a teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or wok. Saute the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds, then add all remaining ingredients, except for the green onions. Bring the sauce to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Next prepare the chicken (or tofu if using). If you prefer a thicker coating, remove the chicken pieces from the baggie and roll them in some extra cornstarch. Heat some vegetable or peanut oil on high in a wok, deep fryer, or heavy skillet and carefully lower the chicken into the oil. Fry until crispy golden brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to paper towels to absorb the oil.
- Add the chicken pieces (or prepared tofu) and green onions to the sauce, stir to coat, and bring the sauce to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with steamed rice and fresh orange slices (optional).
Crispy Battered Tofu Cubes
- 1 lb extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup sparkling/seltzer water
- oil, for frying
- In a shallow bowl, combine half of the flour (1/4 cup) with the cornstarch, onion and garlic powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Put the remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a separate bowl.
- Slowly pour the sparkling water into the flour-cornstarch mixture, stirring to thoroughly combine.
- Dip each tofu cube in the plain flour, coating all sides, then dip the cubes into the flour/sparkling water batter.
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavy saucepan or frying pan and once it’s hot enough that a drop of water sputters when it hits the oil, carefully drop the battered tofu cubes into the hot oil and fry until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu cubes from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Use immediately or they will lose their crispness.