September Recipe Challenge - Orange Chicken

Sunday, September 13, 2009
Finally! After all my humming and hawing, I decided on a dish to make for my September Recipe Challenge. Since the Admiral and I decided to not order any take-out food for the entire month of September (no pizza, no Chinese, no nothing), I settled on making pseudo-Chinese food. I don't know if Orange Chicken is authentic or not; I've read conflicting items about it's origin. The recipe, however, sounded fairly straightforward and potentially very yummy. Plus if you look at the picture which accompanied the original recipe, which I naturally altered, the dish looks scrumptious.

8:45 a.m. STEP 1 - START!
The marinade is very simple: soy sauce, orange juice, ginger, onion powder (which I didn't have), orange zest. Since I like just about everything a bit on the spicy side, I threw in a generous helping of red pepper flakes to give it some zing. Unlike the picture on the recipe's webpage, mine looks quite dark thanks to the soy sauce. Hmmm. Hopefully this will turn a bit more ... orange ... once it goes in the oven. Regardless, the sauce tastes pretty darn yummy, smells divine just in the bowl with the chicken - I can only imagine how heavenly it's going to smell once it goes into the oven! I had to start this early in the morning because the instructions are to marinate the chicken for "at least" 8 hours. Considering I normally eat supper between 5 and 6, this will work out to exactly enough time.

5:00 p.m. STEP 2
Chop green pepper, onion, and carrot into chunky pieces and set aside. Remove chicken pieces from marinade (DON'T discard marinade!!!). Lightly coat the pieces in flour and brown in a frying pan. Hmmm, I now see why they say to cut the chicken into strips...not the bite size pieces I asked the Admiral to cut them into. Oooops!

5:30 p.m. STEP 3
Place chicken in covered baking dish; add veggies. Pour saved marinade over everything. Cover and cook at 375C for 30 minutes.

6:00 p.m. STEP 4
Make jasmine rice. Remove lid from chicken and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.

6:30 p.m. STEP 5
Eat and Enjoy!!!

The verdict???? Taste-wise not bad but needed more orange zest, a few more pepper flakes, and a touch more ginger. Looks? Best not to ask. It was (a) not orange, (b) runny, and (c) a slightly pooh-ish colour. Will I make it again? Yes. The Admiral loved it. I thought it was pretty good but needed a few tweaks. As for the sauce...the picture shown here was obviously not for this recipe. I think someone took a picture of a takeout meal and paired it with this recipe. Seriously. How can you expect to have a orange coloured sweet and sour-like sauce when you have almost equal parts orange juice and soy sauce???? Next time, I'm going to add less soy, more orange zest and a touch of sugar and hopefully that will thicken the sauce up enough.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Maybe throw a bit of chili into the sauce as well? It does look good, though, and you can always cheat and thicken the sauce with a little roux.

Wandering Coyote said...

No, the things you mention won't do much in terms of thickening. The point with the orange/soy combination is the salty/sweet combination on your palate. While I would encourage you to adjust this recipe to your own tastes, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater! If you're worried about thickening, add a bit of cornstarch. If you want it more orangy, then add more zest for sure.

The colours of most commercially made Chinese foods are completely manufactured, so don't get hung up on the colour your dish turned out - that's why it's called "homemade," right? :) It's the flavour that's important here.

I get so annoyed with recipes that call for onion powder! It's not something everyone has around and sometimes it's hard to find. In this case, you could have substituted garlic powder and it would have been smashing!

In fact, where is the garlic in this recipe?! I'm missing it in what I imagine this dish to taste like!

Good for you for making this and I'm glad your mom liked it and that you'll make it again! What's up for October?

Captain Karen said...

Barb: I included red chili pepper flakes to give a kick which was lovely although I didn't add enough. It wasn't in the recipe but it just struck as a must!

WC: I enjoyed the sweet/salty combo - in fact mom and i often make rice with orange juice instead of water and add a little soy sauce to the top (it's fantastic!). I added some extra OJ and flour halfway through the cooking time to thicken it up a bit but it turned the sauce into more of an orange flavoured gravy which wasn't at all what I wanted.

It was more aggrivating because they website picture turns out to be from a plate of restaurant/take out food rather than a true copy of this recipe. I'll do some more research and combine a couple of other recipes I had found and see if I can't come up with something a smidge better. Overall though, it wasn't that bad. Just not great.

Captain Karen said...

WC: For October, I have a thanksgiving dinner at Big Brother's to attend and a potluck at work. I'm going to attempt the pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese icing I had mentioned a while ago. Hopefully it's yummy!

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