Not So Sweet Orange Chicken with Charred Veggies
Orange ya glad I’m making an orange chicken recipe that doesn’t taste like meaty candy? WTF do I mean by meaty candy? Let me elaborate. Every time I order orange chicken takeout, it’s elaborately sweet. Delicious? Absolutely. But do I get tired of it after a few bites due to the almost overpowering sugariness? Unfortunately, yes.
This orange chicken recipe is my take on the takeout favorite. I guess you would say I put a *healthier* spin on it as I’m skipping the crispy battered exterior and the sugar-influence in the sauce, but my intentions with this recipe were not to health-ify the dish. I just wanted to show you guys how I would make it at home. So what’s my version? Basically I’m sautéing a naked chicken breast and tossing it in a less sweet version of an orange chicken sauce. My version is zesty, salty, a little sweet (thanks to some honey instead of the typical brown sugar that’s used) and its bright, yet comforting. I’m also pairing it with some charred green beans and carrots to add a bitter, toasty and vegetal bite on the side. Finally, I serve it up with some brown rice because that’s all I had. Typically I would use white rice, but use whatever rice makes your heart flutter.
Of course, if you have any personal preferences of your own, feel free to tweak anything and everything you see here to whatever fits your needs.
Orange Chicken with Charred Green Beans and Carrots
- 6-8 cups salted water for blanching vegetables
- 2 chicken breasts brined in salt water for 30 minutes
- 3 carrots washed and cut into matchsticks
- 1 1/2 cups green beans washed, ends trimmed
- 2 oranges of your choice juiced and zested
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp grated ginger can sub for ginger powder
- 2 cloves garlic grated, can sub for garlic powder
- 1 tbsp honey plus more to taste depending on your preference
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch can sub for corn starch or flour of your choice
- Oil for pans
- Salt for seasoning veggies and chicken in pan
- 2 cups cooked rice
- Sesame seeds optional, for topping
- Dried minced garlic optional, for topping
- Scallions sliced, for topping (optional)
- Pour the 6-8 cups of water into a large pot and salt generously. Heat over medium high heat until it reaches a boil.
- In the meantime, if you marinated or brined the chicken breasts, remove them from the liquid and pat them dry with a paper towel. Cut them into relatively same-sized cubes and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine orange juice, zest, soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic and honey. Mix until combined. Taste the mixture to see if you need any salt (with less sodium soy sauce, you may need to add a little sprinkle.) If needed, add salt to your preference.
- Add the tapioca starch (or starch/flour of your choice) and whisk until there are no clumps.
- With a strainer or spoon, remove any large pieces of orange pulp or orange seeds.
- Heat 2 large skillets over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering.
- While those heat up, add the green beans and carrots to the boiling salt water for 1 1/2 minutes. With a slotted spoon or collander, let the water drain and then transfer the vegetables to one of the skillets. Sprinkle with salt and toss, then spread them out evenly so that they are all being hit evenly with the heat, which will result in a nice char. Check up on them in 2 minutes.
- Add the cubed chicken to the other skillet and let it cook for 2-3 minutes, until halfway cooked.
- When the vegetables are charred to your liking, remove them from the pan and place them on a plate so they don't continue to cook.
- When the vegetables are charred on one side, flip them so the other side gets nice and charred, most likely another 2 minutes. I'm giving time estimattes, but use your judgement with your own stovetop since everyone's is different!
- Once the chicken is halfway cooked through, flip the chicken and add your orange sauce mixture to the pan. Let it continue to cook on medium high heat. The sauce should begin to bubble and thicken. Give it 3-5 minutes until it's fully thickened.
- Once the sauce reaches a consistency of your liking and your chicken is thoroughly cooked through (should be a white color and feel firm,) turn the heat off.
- Plate the charred vegetables with about a cup of cooked rice per person. Add the orange chicken on top, then drizzle more sauce on top. Sprinkle sesame seeds and dried minced garlic on top, then finish it off with sliced scallions. Repeat with the second serving. Serve immediately.