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large bowl of Panda Express orange chicken with chopsticks

Panda Express Orange Chicken


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 27 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 57 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x

Description

Skip the takeout and make this copycat version of Panda Express orange chicken.  Learn how to make the crispy chicken and the sweet and spicy orange sauce for an unforgettable meal you'll want on repeat.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Batter

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (30g)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch (80g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 3/4 cup water (177 ml)

For the Orange Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (15 ml)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (50g)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (50g)
  • 1/4 cup no pulp orange juice (60 ml)
  • 4-5 tablespoons white vinegar (60-75 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (30 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (20g)
  • 2 tablespoons water (20g)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

For Deep Frying

  • 1 1/2 cups high smoke oil (355 ml)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, with fat trimmed and cut in one-inch cubes (454g)

For Finishing

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Batter: Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and crack an egg into it.  Carefully whisk in the egg, then add the oil and the water.  Whisk until well mixed.  The batter should be pancake-like in consistency.  Submerge the thighs and mix it with your hand for a minute.  Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Orange Sauce: In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, heat up the oil until shimmering, then add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and the sambal oelek.  Stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds, then add the sugars and the orange juice.  Cook for 2 minutes until sugar dissolves reducing the heat to medium and stirring occasionally, then add the vinegar and soy sauce.
  3. Thickening the Sauce: Make the slurry by stirring the cornstarch and water together, then add 1 tablespoon of slurry and whisk.  Add more slurry as needed.  You'll have leftover slurry, and cook it until it has thickened to a maple-syrup like consistency.  Remove from the heat and add the orange zest and cover to retain the heat.
  4. Deep Frying: Pour in 1 1/2 cups of high smoke point oil into a large wok and let it heat up to 350 F.  Drop the battered pieces into the hot oil one at a time until roughly 1/2 cup of meat is in the wok.  Cook until golden brown, roughly 4 to 5 minutes.  Turn the meat with chopsticks so it doesn't burn.  Drain it on a paper towel-lined baking tray, then repeat these steps with the rest of the meat.  Pour the oil into a bowl to allow to cool, and wipe out the wok with paper towel.
  5. Finishing: Add all the deep fried meat back into the wok.  Stir in the sesame oil into the orange sauce for taste and extra sheen, then pour it over the meat.  Stir gently to coat each piece.  Garnish with green onion.  Serve while still hot with steamed rice, fried rice, chow mein, or super greens.

Notes

  • Want the meat extra crispy?  Double fry it.  First, fry for 2 minutes, then chill 20 minutes.  Second fry 3 minutes.
  • No thermometer? Test with a wooden chopstick.  If tiny bubbles surround the chopstick, the oil is hot and ready.
  • Want puffy breading?  Add baking soda to the batter.
  • Need this spicier?  Increase the red pepper flakes or the sambal oelek by 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Want more orange flavor?  Increase the orange zest by 1 teaspoon.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Deep Fried
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: recipe, panda express, nutrition

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