How to Make Orange Sauce for Orange Chicken

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Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate


Orange chicken can refer to two different types of dishes: an American version of the classic duck a l’orange and a sweet-sour, citrus-flavored sauce for the American-Chinese dish of orange chicken. Both dishes use a sweet, tangy, sticky sauce flavored with orange juice, and sometimes orange peel, to give chicken a savory sweet taste. The following recipes are adapted from ones by The Nibble and Woman’s Day for chicken a l’orange, and serious eats for American-Chinese orange chicken.

Ingredients

  • Chinese-American Orange Chicken Sauce
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    2 tablespoons rice wine or vodka
    2 tablespoons white vinegar
    4 tablespoons white sugar
    1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
    1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon orange zest
    1/4 cup orange juice
    *1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder

    • 5 tablespoons water
      1 tablespoon cornstarch
      1 teaspoon salt

    American-French Chicken a l’Orange
    1 cup orange juice
    1 cup water
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1/2 cup marmalade
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon rosemary, dried
    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
      *1/4 cup white wine

Directions -- Chinese-American Orange Chicken Sauce

  • Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, spirits and sesame seed oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set the bowl aside and heat a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat.

    Add the vegetable oil and heat until it is just warm. Add the minced garlic, heating until it is fragrant and just starting to brown, around 5 to 7 minutes.

    Stir in the soy sauce mix, along with the orange juice, zest, salt and ginger powder. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil.

    In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the water, making a slurry, where the cornstarch is suspended in the liquid.

    Pour the slurry into the boiling orange and soy sauce mix. Stir continuously, until the mix thickens. Thin with water if needed to achieve the desired consistency.

    Use the sauce immediately to season the chicken, or store in an airtight container for up to one week in the fridge. Reheat the sauce over medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon of water, before using it.

Directions -- American-French Chicken a l’Orange

  • Whisk all of the ingredients for the sauce, excepting the cornstarch and white wine, together in a medium-sized, nonreactive pot.

    Bring the mix to a fast boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the white wine, creating a thick slurry.

    Pour the slurry into the hot sauce, and stir quickly and continuously. Cook until the marinade has thickened, thinning it out with water or wine as needed.

    Dress the cooked chicken with the hot sauce and serve it immediately.

    Tip: The sauce can also be used as a marinade for the chicken, prior to cooking. To use it as a marinade, combine the whisked ingredients -- except for the cornstarch and wine -- with no more than 2 pounds of chicken parts. Let it rest for three hours or overnight in the fridge.

Variations

  • Chinese-American Orange Sauce
    Add extra spices to give the orange sauce a deeper, more warming flavor. Sprinkle 1 to 3 teaspoons of five spice powder into the sauce when you add the ginger powder. For a spicier sauce, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of cayenne powder, or 2 teaspoons of finely minced fresh chilies.

    Give the sauce extra texture by stirring in 2 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds or 3 tablespoons of finely minced green onions at the very end, before coating the cooked chicken.

    French-American Orange Sauce
    Replace the rosemary with other herbs, such as tarragon, oregano or thyme.

    For a richer tasting dish, add 3 tablespoons of clarified butter to the sauce.

References

  • Photo Credit rez-art/iStock/Getty Images
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