What is Panda Express most famous for? Their orange chicken right? What if I said you can make orange chicken better than Panda Express right at home. No special equipment. No secret organic chicken either. I’ve always loved Chinese take-out. Actually, Chinese food in general. I know orange chicken isn’t really an old recipe, it’s more something that was reinvented to suit American pallets, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious.
Why did you add Fireball?-Myself
How to Make Your Orange Chicken Better Than Panda Express
I know what you’re going to ask. Why did you add Fireball? I’ll be honest, I tried to make it a second time, this time without the whiskey and it felt like it was missing a little something. Do you really want to take that chance? I don’t. According to my friend Brenton, the alcohol helps the batter stick to the chicken, and results in a crispier final product. Next, I used chicken thighs with the bone and skin still on. Of course, I didn’t fry it that way. I cut the chicken off the bone and kept the skin on as much as possible. Why? We all know the best part of fried chicken is the skin. No one picks a breast for the abundance of dry meat it contains.
Now, what about all these spices? Do you need to drop $20 at an Asian market to get all of these? No, you don’t have to. I just wanted to include everything we used in the marinade. Feel free to mix some things up. Maybe switch up the black soy sauce for Worcestershire sauce. However, the goal with all these spices and sauces is to create a really complex sauce to cover the wings. That’s what makes them addicting. Your tongue is constantly overwhelmed trying to figure out where all these flavors are coming from, what the ingredients are. If you want to make orange chicken better than Panda Express, you can’t take shortcuts. If you want to make it taste the same, try this recipe instead. Or, if you want something traditionally Chinese, try my mapo tofu!
- Large pot
- Large skillet
- 1.25 lbs chicken thighs The fat from the skin will give extra flavor
- 2 tbsp whiskey I used Fireball, the whiskey will help give us a crispier product
- 2 tbsp corn starch Helps thicken sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp black soy sauce More powerful than regular soy sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ orange Zest and juice
- ½ cup corn starch
- ½ cup flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder Can sub with more chili powder if you have none
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs Keep separate from rest of breading
- 1 big pot vegetable oil Or canola, sunflower, etc.
- 2 cloves garlic Minced
- Cut chicken off the bone into about 1 inch chunks. Put in bowl and add whiskey. Leave it on counter, uncovered.
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a new bowl, save some orange zest to add at the end for presentation. Let them get to know each other while you work on the breading.
- Crack 2 eggs into a new bowl and beat them.
- Combine all other breading ingredients into a bowl separate from the egg wash
- Dip chicken chunks into egg wash bowl, then cover them thoroughly with your breading.
- Fill a pot with about 3 to 4 inches of vegetable oil. Bring the oil up to 375 F.
- Gingerly, but confidently, drop the chicken chunks into the oil, one at a time, away from your body. Don't overcrowd the pot, if temperature drops below 325 F, stop adding chicken.
- Fry chicken approx. 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Take chicken out to cool.
- Get out a big skillet and heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add minced garlic and extra orange zest if desired. Fry for 1 minute.
- Add sauce mixture to skillet. Stir continuously until sauce becomes thicker, syrup like.
- Add in chicken, stir until evenly coated in sauce.
- Plate up, add orange zest to make it look pretty! Serve over white rice if desired.