Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Look Out, Panda

So, to celebrate Kam's last final and freedom to the summer, I cooked a special meal. His last final took 3 hours, so I had plenty of time to get to it. I almost forgot to take a picture of it, so it's half eaten and doesn't look quite as good as it tasted. Kam said he wants it to be on our regular menu from now on.

One of the things I'm most proud of about this meal is that although it's not exactly healthy, it definitely competes with some of the places we're partial to (Ahem. Panda Express). And it's definitely a money saver in that area as well. The second thing I'm proud of is that I made this up all by myself. (And it actually tasted good! Whoohoo! It's always a gamble with those ones.) With that introduction, I give you my personal orange chicken recipe.

Disclaimer: It is definitely a subtle orange flavor. But I don't really know what else to call it. (How about delicious Chinese flavored stuff?) I said it competes with Panda. Not, tastes just like it.

Orange Chicken (feeds two very hungry college kids (one of whom is a man))
In 5 easy steps! (With a very long commentary)

Like I said, I was way into actually eating this when I remembered to take a picture.
Otherwise, I could probably have made it more pretty.
You will need:

2 bell peppers
1/4 of an onion
1 orange
2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup of flour
1 egg
olive oil
teriyaki sauce
lite soy sauce
corn starch
onion powder
garlic salt
2 cups cooked rice

1. Chop your fruit and veggies
Slice bell peppers and chop onion and set aside. Chop orange in half and set one half aside. The other half can be used to garnish the dish with some of those fancy orange rings (like in my picture). Or you can just eat it, or save it, or whatever you want to do really. I just wanted my dinner to look fancy.

2. Fry your chicken
Chop your chicken breasts up into bite sized pieces. Start some olive oil frying in a wok or frying pan on high or medium-high. You're going to kind of deep fry your chicken in this, but you don't want to have a whole lot of extra oil in your pan (this becomes the base for your sauce), so be conservative (like I said. Not exactly healthy. But olive oil is better than a lot of things. Especially things that chinese food gets cooked in...). Break the egg into a small bowl and put the flour out in a shallow bowl or plate. Dip the chicken in the egg and then flour, and then carefully drop into the hot oil (MAKE SURE YOUR CHICKEN IS COMPLETELY THAWED BEFORE THIS STEP. I've heard a lot of horror stories about this from my old roommate, Sam). You're going to have to do this quickly so the first pieces don't burn before you get the rest in the pan. Stir/flip the chicken as needed, so that it doesn't get too brown on any one side.

3. Add your veggies
Once all the sides are pretty even, turn the stove down to medium-low and add your peppers and onions. If you do this just as the pan is starting to cool down, your onions will get really yummy really fast. :) Stir this every once in a while to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, but get started on your sauce.

4. Make your sauce
You can either throw everything in the pan right away (If you're real confident) or mix it in a bowl and taste it as you go along. I do a little bit of both. (And unfortunately, I didn't measure anything, so you're going to have to do a little guess work yourself). But, (from what I can remember,) here's how I did it:

Take your half an orange and squeeze the juice out into the pan. (I do this first so it gets as much time cooking with the chicken as possible. They're friends.) Mix teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and honey to desired taste. I typically find it takes a lot more teriyaki than any of the other ingredients. Lite soy sauce is a little easier to work with, I find, because it's lower in sodium, and thus not as strong. I use it to cancel out the teriyaki's grilled flavor, if you will, just a little bit. If you're using regular soy sauce, keep this in mind (In other words, take it easy on the soy sauce). I like sweet sauces, but I didn't want to add straight sugar to my slightly more healthy recipe, so I figured between about a half a tablespoon of honey and half an orange's worth of juice I could get the kick I was looking for. I then added corn starch to the sauce to make it just a little thicker (this also makes it stick to the rice and chicken a little more and then you don't have to worry about scooping the sauce out of the pan and drizzling it on your food just to have it run all over everything on your plate). If you're adding everything straight to the pan I wouldn't recommend adding corn starch. Just skip this step. If you get too much corn starch (you can tell if you can taste it. Blech), just add more teriyaki sauce. Once you add it to the pan the oil will help null the starchy flavor as well. I added a little ginger to the sauce right towards the end. (My mom used to tell me you needed 4 flavors to make a good Asian sauce. I don't remember what they are, so I try to cover all my bases, and I consider spicy one of them.) After adding my sauce to the pan, I decided it need just a little garlic salt and onion powder, but you could just as easily add this to your sauce before dumping it in the pan.

5. Mix in your rice
Add your sauce to the pan, and heat everything up together. Add 2 cups of rice (or whatever will fit in your pan) and stir that in. Put your cute little orange garnishes on your plates and serve it up! You're done!

If anyone tries this, let me know what you think!

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