While out shopping with my son we noticed a rather large bottle of “Panda Express Orange Sauce”, and I thought it would be fun to try to recreate this popular and favorite dish of my son’s but add a twist or two.
Now there are no recipes from Panda Express on creating the breading for the chicken, so it got me thinking instead of using regular flour why not use both rice flour and regular all-purpose flour, soak the chicken in buttermilk so the flour can adhere to the chicken without getting all clumpy, and a little fresh orange zest and juice along with a few dried chilies to add a punch of spice.
The end result was an empty wok!
My daughter Marti who isn’t a big orange chicken fan, absolutely LOVED this dish!!!
For those of you who live in the states I’m sure you have heard of or seen a Panda Express in the food court at your local shopping mall. Panda Express is one eatery that has the wok’s and cooks in plain view for customers to see that no pre-packaged or processed food are prepared.
Panda Express is a fast casual restaurant chain serving American Chinese styled cuisine. It operates mainly inside the United States, in casinos, shopping malls, toll plazas, supermarkets, airports, railroad stations, strip malls, theme parks, stadiums, college campuses and The Pentagon. It is the largest chain of Asian fast food restaurants in the United States.
In 2004, the company began opening stand-alone restaurants with drive-through windows.
Orange Chicken is a dish inspired by the Hunan Province in South Central China. It is prepared with crispy boneless chicken bites, tossed in the wok with our secret sweet and spicy orange sauce. Panda’s very own Executive Chef Andy brought this entree to life and it quickly became Panda’s most beloved dish.
So here is my adaptation of Panda Express’s Orange Chicken.
2-3 lbs Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1 Cup buttermilk
1/2 Cup rice flour
1/2 Cup flour
Juice and zest of one large orange
3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
6-8 thin dried chilies peppers
1 1/2 Cups Panda Express Orange Sauce
Cut chicken breast into 1/2 inch cubes and place into a large ziploc bag.
Once all the chicken is cut add buttermilk to chicken, seal bag and place into fridge for at least an hour.
Soaking the chicken in Buttermilk tenderizes the meat of the chicken through the usage of protein enzymes activated that occur naturally in the buttermilk, which breakdown the cellular walls of the chicken meat itself
Zest and juice one large orange and set both aside.
Mince garlic and also set aside
Mix in a large bowl both rice and all-purpose flour together until they are both well incorporated. Using a large strainer drain and toss buttermilk from chicken.
Using tongs take drained chicken and add to bowl of flour, shaking off any excess and place onto a large plate or platter.
Heat wok over high heat and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Working in batches cook chicken for 3-4 min on each side, remove and place onto paper towel covered plate to drain.
Once all chicken is cooked heat another tablespoon of oil and over medium heat add garlic and dried chilies and stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes.
Add chicken with zest back to wok and stir to evenly mix together chicken, garlic and chilies.
Start by adding a cup of orange sauce and mix to distribute sauce evenly.
Add orange juice and continue to mix together. By this stage you should be able to tell if you need to add more sauce, if so add a half cup at a time.
Adding too much sauce will give you a soggy bite and be too sweet. Adding zest and juice balances the sweetness of the bottled sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
Serve over steamed rice!
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