Spicy Orange Chicken with Snow Peas and Red Pepper

This recipe comes from a somewhat unique source (when we’re talking about my usual recipe sources, at least.) I am one of those people who actually reads every single cookbook I receive, and this includes creating a little chart in the front with page numbers and names of various recipes I will someday make. This recipe comes from a short, somewhat dated cookbook called “All the Best Stir Fries.” Published almost 20 years ago without even a single real photo, I got this little book from my mom on one of my summer trips to California during college. Except for the one time when I went through and marked good recipes, I haven’t pulled it off my shelf until last week. I wanted something with ingredients that I had in the pantry, and something quick and easy to pull together. This recipe met both requirements. Depending on your pantry, this rule might or might not be true. Since I cook so often, I’ve always got things on hand such as cornstarch, rice vinegar, chili paste, sesame oil and of course, ginger.

(Hint about ginger: ginger is extremely cheap when bought fresh at the grocery store. I usually buy a medium-sized root, but since I only use a tiny bit at a time, my trick is to chop the ginger into 1/2-inch pieces, put them into a baggie, and freeze. Each time you cook, pull out one piece, let it thaw on the counter for ten minutes, and you’ve got the perfect amount of ginger for one dish.)

When I first tasted a piece of chicken that was simmering in the pan before I served dinner, I actually said out loud, “Ohmigod!” To me, this recipe tastes very similar to actual Orange Chicken from a chinese restaurant. I hope you all love it as much as I did!

PS – as you can see in the picture, I served this on top of jasmine rice.


Spicy Orange Chicken with Snow Peas and Red Pepper

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small strips

1 TBS water

1 TBS cornstarch

salt + pepper

3 TBS oil

1/3 C fresh-squeezed orange juice*

grated orange zest from the entire orange*

2-3 tsp sugar*

2-3 tsp rice vinegar*

1 tsp soy sauce*

1 tsp chili paste*

1.5 tsp cornstarch

few drops of sesame oil (a little bit goes a loooong way…don’t get too excited with this stuff!)

1 garlic clove*

1 tsp finely chopped ginger*

1 red pepper, cut into thin strips

small bag of snow peas, washed

*the reason I starred these ingredients is because, I rarely (if ever) follow the recipe when it calls for putting together various sauces. We like spicy food, so I used way more than 1tsp chili sauce. I also like sweet sauces, so I used more sugar. My point is, make it how you like it.

1. In ziploc bag, combine chicken, pinch of salt+pepper, cornstarch and water. Let sit for at least half-hour in the fridge, or up to 24 hours.

2. Combine orange juice, orange zest, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Whisk thoroughly.

3. Heat 1 TBS oil in large skillet. When hot, add red pepper, snow peas and ginger. Ensure your pan is really hot – you want your veggies to get a few spots of brown on them (I recently learned, in Chinese this is called “wok hey” – a few charred spots on the vegetables that you won’t achieve if you let them cook more slowly.) Cook for a couple of minutes, tossing frequently. Set hot veggies aside.

4. Add a bit more oil to pan and add chicken. Stir-fry for several minutes until cooked through, with a nice brown color. Add garlic at the last minute – add more oil if necessary so garlic doesn’t stick and burn. Return veggies to pan and lower heat; add orange sauce. Stir until everything is glazed in the sauce.

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