Ideas of what you want to can get stuck in your head until you actually cook what your brain won't let go of. This happened last week when I chanced on a recipe for spicy orange beef in The NYTimes cooking newsletter.
I love this dish and often order it when I see it, and I've made variations throughout the years. But having the second half of an excellent chicken breast from butcherbox (boneless but happily with the skin left on), I decided that spicy orange would work with chicken perfectly well. And so it did, in under 30 minutes in a tiny Manhattan kitchen.
It's all about the sauce, but coating and frying the meat is also important for flavor and texture. I didn't have any cornstarch on hand so used flour in the egg white, which was adequate, but flour has gluten which gives it a softer bite compared with the crisp crunch of a pure starch. I used rice vinegar but I'd have used lime juice had I had it. If I don't give quantities, it means it's to-your-liking or what-you-happen-to-have-on-hand.
Spicy Orange Chicken for One
- zest and juice from one orange
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (or lime juice)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced, plus 3 smashed, coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp chili flakes
- 1 chicken breast cut into thin strips
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- oil for deep frying
- 5 whole dried red chilis
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (the white and about half the green)
- First make the sauce: Combine orange juice, soy, vinegar or lime juice, sugar, hoisin, and fish sauce and stir well.
- Put the oil in a small sauce pan over medium high heat, then add the garlic, ginger and chili flakes. Cook till softened. Add the sauce and simmer till reduced by about one-third.
- For the chicken: Mix the cornstarch and egg white together and add the chicken, tossing it to coat.
- In a skillet or wok over high, add enough oil so that the chicken will just be submerged. When it's rippling hot, lay the chicken in and cook till crisp, careful to keep each piece from sticking to others. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
- Pour off all but a couple of tablespoons of oil. Return it to the heat and add the chillis, cooking them till they're black, about a minute. Add the garlic, ginger and half the scallions. Stir-fry till softened, another minute or so. Add the sauce and, when the sauce has come to a simmer, the chicken. Toss till well coated. Remove from the heat add the orange zest, stir, then serve, garnishing with the remaining scallion.
- Serve with white rice and broccoli rapini blanched and stir-fried with garlic.
If you liked this post, take a look at these links:
- My past posts on Chicken Romano, and Rip's Tarragon Butter Baste.
- A few new Chinese cookbooks that you should have in your kitchen library are All Under Heaven and Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees.
- What exactly is fish sauce? Serious Eats shares some insight on this salty unami driven sauce.
- Meet the first street vendor who has earned a Michelin star.
© 2016 Michael Ruhlman. All rights reserved.