Skip the take-out and whip up this quick and easy orange peel chicken at home in the time it takes to cook rice!
I love orange peel chicken and when I’m in the mood and short on time (or energy), this is my “go to” recipe. It’s ready to eat by the time the rice is cooked and it’s lighter too, since there is not breading or frying involved. Add some rice and a quick veg (I cooked up a bit of edamame for this one) and you’re good to go on this quick, easy and delicious meal.
Now even though this is a quick and easy dish, I’ve also included an very optional “velveting” step that you might like to consider if you feel like investing just a bit more time. It’s the method that Chinese restaurants use to deliver up those tender chicken bites. It’s very easy, but it will add about 35 minutes to your prep time, most from the 30 minutes of marinating time. As I said, it’s completely optional, but to be honest, the results are fabulous, so definitely keep in mind to try some time.
You can also add some veg right in with the chicken, for more of a stir fry. Red pepper, onion, spinach or carrots would all be good choice. Simply cut and fry up with your chicken. Then add the sauce.
- 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 lbs. boneless chicken breast (about 3 large breasts), cut into small chunks
- (Note: If you have time and would like to "velvet" your chicken as mentioned above, see bottom of instructions for how to add this step)
- 2 tsp. oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (or use 1/4 cup more orange juice, if you don't have lemons on hand)
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. finely diced orange peel, DIVIDED (*see note below)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger)
- 1 Tbsp. Asian Chili Garlic Sauce (or more, to taste)
- To thicken sauce: (mix the add in increments at end, as needed)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp. water
- Start rice cooking.
- * Using a vegetable peeler, peel a couple of thin strips from the side of the orange. (Using a vegetable peeler allows you to just take the peel and none of the bitter pith). Finely dice peel (about 1/8-inch squares) until you have about 1 1/2 Tbsp. Add 1 Tbsp. of the diced orange peel to your sauce. Reserve the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. to stir fry with your chicken.
- Prepare sauce by combining sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
- Heat oil in skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken and reserved diced orange peel and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. If using additional vegetables, add them after chicken is partially cooked. Add sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer while your rice/veg cooks (5-10 minutes).
- In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Add about half of it to simmering sauce and cook, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens. If not thick enough, add more, as needed, until sauce is as thick as you'd like. Serve over rice.
- If you'd like to try velveting your chicken, combine the following ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour over cut, raw chicken chunks. Stir, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. veg oil
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. salt
After 30 minutes, drain. Heat 4 inches of water to boiling in a medium/large saucepan. Once boiling, add drained chicken chunks and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Remove to a plate, then proceed with recipe.
This recipe makes a ton of sauce. I like sauce and love to have lots to go with the rice. It’s also useful if cooking vegetables along with your chicken for a stir-fry, so there is enough sauce to go around.
The sauce contains a couple of salty elements – chicken broth and soy sauce in particular. You probably won’t need to add additional salt, but taste before serving and assess. A bit might be needed to bring out all the flavours.
Start with 1 Tbsp. Asian Chili Garlic sauce and work your way up to desired heat level. You could also use Sambal Oelek, if you like. Reduce amount to 1-2 tsp.
As mentioned, the chicken velveting is completely optional, but I have to confess, it makes a big difference in the texture of the chicken – in a good way! If you have the time, I think it’s worth it.
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