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Old 03-01-2009, 07:40 PM   #1
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Crispy orange chicken help?

Anyone have any advice on making this? I'm not a great cook when it comes to complicated dishes, but I'm trying to make this for a special occasion. (And I'll probably be making it a day before a special occasion, too, just so that I don't screw it up on the special occasion!) I can pan-sear a steak and I can make chicken parmesan, but looking at recipes for this, it looks ... complicated! I had to look up just to find out what "Orange Zest" even was. It sounded like a scented bath soap.

Any idea what might go well with it, also? I'm assuming rice, but the only two times I've made rice it's turned out crispy, so I'm hoping there's something else, too. Otherwise, lots of practice. Any any kind of rice, if it's gonna be rice? Would Minute Rice type stuff work, or should I go with something more complex?

Sorry for the dumb questions!

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Old 03-02-2009, 01:34 AM   #2
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I personally was taught wok style chicken from a Chinese Master Chef while attendind culinary school... They use a method called "silking" where they cut the chicken into thin strips, and dredge them in CORN STARCH before adding them into the hot wok. This gets a nice crust on the outside of the chicken and the residual starch also assists in thickening the sauce. My tips would be:
*sear the chicken and remove when browned.
*Without cleaning your pan, add a little more oil and sautee some garlic, fresh ginger and scallion.
* Add Orange zest and Orang juice
Once boiling add a Tablespoon of orange marmelade.

As far as the rice goes I would say if you're not quite skilled at making rice, stay away from it, go with an asian noodle, like SOBA or a lomein noodle. Its just like cooking pasta.

Hope I was of some help.
Bon Appetit
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:01 AM   #3
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First of all there are no dumb questions. If you found the recipes online, please post the links so I or anyone else can help you with questions you have about it. Recipes can look complicated, but most of them are easier then they look. I have a bunch of cook books here and will try and find a good orange chicken recipe for you.

Zesting citrus is something I do all the time and is really simple, it just sounds fancy. There are a couple of tools that can be used for zesting, but my favorite is a microplane grater. Not only is it easiest to zest with, in my opinon, it is also good for other things. Always remember to wash the citrus fruit under water before zesting. When zesting only zest off the outside color, not the white part you reveal. If that makes sense. Once the citrus fruit is zested, it is still perfectly fine to keep for juicing at a later time. A great way to use zest is in salads. Some lemon zest as a finishing touch to a simple salad makes the salad look and taste better.

As for what would go well with orange chicken. You are right with rice. I mean rice and chinese food is like peanut butter and jelly. I have not used minute rice, but I am assuming it just cooks faster, like instant polenta and instant grits. There are lots of different kinds of rice, but for you I would just buy simple long grain white rice. As for cooking the rice, it is easy once you know the ratio and cooking time. When cooking rice the pilaf method (basic way of cooking it), use a two to one ratio. Two parts water to one part rice. Get a sauce pan with a lid, if you have a a clear lid that you can see through that would be great. Put a little bit of oil or butter in the sauce pan over medium heat. If using oil, use a neutral oil, meaning oil that does not have strong flavor like extra virgin olive oil. Put the rice in and stir to coat the rice with the butter or oil, whichever you decided to use. Let the rice cook for about a minute. Pour in the water and stir, then bring to a boil. Drop it back down to a simmer. A simmer is just below a boil. Stir and put the lid on. Leave the lid on and cook for 18 minutes. If the temperature is too high and the water is evaporating too fast, just turn it down a little and maybe add a tiny bit more water. This is not ideal, as the rice might absorb too much water, but it is better than having the water evaporate too quickly and ending up with crunchy burnt rice. Once it has been 18 minutes season the rice with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Practice making rice before your party, so that you will be great the day of the party.

Another great side for chinese food is stir fry vegetables. There are lots of great vegetables for stir frys. I like to go simple with yellow onion, bell peppers (a mixture of colors looks great), bok choy (chinese cabbage), and garlic.

Crab wontons are a tasty appetizer. They are not hard to make. It is just wonton wrappers filled with a cream cheese crab mixture and then fried. Wonton wrappers may look complicated, but they are really easy to use and can be bought almost anywhere. I found them at target. Just rember when using wonton wrappers keep a damp cloth or paper towel over the ones that are not filled, so that they do not dry out on you and crack.

I hope this was helpful and not too much for you to take in. Invite some friends over and practice making the dishes and see what they think. That way when the special occastion arrives it will turn out great.
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Old 03-03-2009, 11:52 AM   #4
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Crispy orange chicken is not seared in a wok. It's coated in corn starch and usually fried in a wok in oil.

Cornstarch is what makes it crispy.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:17 PM   #5
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There are no dumb questions, if you are going to cook a Chinese dish, I think Orange chicken is a good one. It's not that hard and fits well into your make ahead plan.

Day 1: Get some chicken breasts and cut them into strips, chunks whatever shape you like, just make sure they are bite size
I like to put a little grated ginger and a tsp of soy sauce in my chicken
Let it marinate for an hour
Beat a whole egg and put it in the chicken, ensure you stir it with your hands to ensure all chicken has some egg
Put 2 cups of cornstarch in a shallow pan
Coat the eggy chicken in the cornstarch
Heat oil and fry the chicken in batches until they are nice and crispy

At this point you can put them on a tray and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, pop them in a ziploc and put them in the freezer again.

Next day remove and put them directly from freezer into a preheated 300 degree oven.

Make a sauce:

I like to use orange juice (easy breezy) about 1/2 cup
zest the orange before juicing (all this involves is using a grater and grating the skin and leaving the white part behind)
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/4 stick of ginger grated
Add 3 tbsp of soy sauce
Add 1/2 tbsp of chili sauce (siracha is good)
Add 2 tbsp of brown sugar
Add 2 tsps of corn starch
Stir it all to combine.

In a pan, heat some oil. See if you can get your hands on some dried red arabol chilies (available in any grocery stores hispanic isle). Once the oil is hot, add the chilies, next add the sauce. It will thicken due to the corn starch. Next add the chicken from the oven. Toss in some geen onions and you are done.

For Rice - If you are not comfortable you can use minute rice. It's not that hard to cook rice. The best way to cook rice is to use 1 part of rice (so a cup) to 2 parts of water. Put it in a pot and bring it to a full boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover and let it steam for another 15-20 minutes and rice is done. If you are still not comfortable the noodle option that someone recommended earlier is a good one.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Z_X View Post
Any idea what might go well with it, also? I'm assuming rice, but the only two times I've made rice it's turned out crispy, so I'm hoping there's something else, too. Otherwise, lots of practice. Any any kind of rice, if it's gonna be rice? Would Minute Rice type stuff work, or should I go with something more complex?
Rice is a natural with Chinese food. I posted a recipe for cooking rice in the microwave, because I was always forgetting about it and it would burn. Here it is: How do you cook rice?

Good luck.
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:34 AM   #7
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Thanks for the help! I'm going to give it a shot... I'll prepare the chicken on Friday for dinner Saturday. And it it turns out awful, I guess that's a good excuse to go out to eat!

I bought some boneless/skinless chicken breast strips, and I'm going to cut them into several pieces. I don't even own a deep fryer, so I'll have to pick one up tonight. About how hot and how long should I deep fry the chicken pieces?
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z_X View Post
Thanks for the help! I'm going to give it a shot... I'll prepare the chicken on Friday for dinner Saturday. And it it turns out awful, I guess that's a good excuse to go out to eat!

I bought some boneless/skinless chicken breast strips, and I'm going to cut them into several pieces. I don't even own a deep fryer, so I'll have to pick one up tonight. About how hot and how long should I deep fry the chicken pieces?

If you're looking for an excuse to buy a deep fryer, then you absolutely need one for this dish. Otherwise, you don't need a deep fryer to make this dish. You can use a wok with oil in it or any straight-sided pan. The oil should be about 375 F and how long to cook them depends on the size of the pieces. A few minutes is all it should take.
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:52 PM   #9
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Andy's right. You don't need a deep fryer. Just a pan or a wok.

And I'm not sure you want to prepare the food the day before. It will get soggy if you fry it ahead of time.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:02 PM   #10
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I've never used a wok, it looks complicated! But I'm willing to give it a shot! I'll have to go pick one up tomorrow. What kind of oil should I use?

EDIT: Also, it looks like I'm going to go with Yakuta's recipe for the orange chicken itself. Can I get you to clarify one thing:

"In a pan, heat some oil. See if you can get your hands on some dried red arabol chilies (available in any grocery stores hispanic isle). Once the oil is hot, add the chilies, next add the sauce. It will thicken due to the corn starch. Next add the chicken from the oven. Toss in some green onions and you are done."

How hot should the oil be, and how much should I use?

I'm not going to prepare it the day before, just gonna do everything at once, so I don't know if that changes anything major.

Thanks!!
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