Once when I was on the freeway with my friends, I saw an advertisement board that said “Panda Bowl, the house of original orange chicken.” I found it somewhat hilarious. At this point, I think most people know that Panda Bowl doesn’t sell real Chinese food just like Del Taco doesn’t sell real Mexican food. Furthermore, the very famous orange chicken has never ever existed in China.
There are some dishes with similar ingredients but a completely different flavor. In Sichuan, there is a traditional cold dish that is made with chicken and dried orange peel, but that dish is spicy, and doesn’t taste like orange chicken. However, I believe there is another dish, called Gulaorou, that tastes more like the “original orange chicken.”
Gulaorou is also called sweet and sour pork, however, you can use chicken or fish as substitution for pork. This dish is a traditional Yuecai, which is the term used to describe dishes from Guangdong, a province next to the ocean in the southeast China. Due to the hot and humid climate, they have more sugar cane and therefore, more sweetness in their dishes compared to the north. The sauce is traditionally made with just sugar, vinegar and a little tomato paste, but in late decades, people started to add fruit such as pineapples, apples, or citruses as a booster to the flavor of the sauce and it does make the sauce more refreshing.
Considering the popularity of orange chicken, this dish should be interesting to try to make at home. And of course I have a recipe for you.
Here you are:
- Clean the meat of your choice and cut it into cubes with an approximate width of ¾ inches.
- Put the meat, a little salt and pepper, grounded ginger(optional), and egg white(optional) into a ziploc bag and leave it in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
- Mix a part of flour with a part of cornstarch.
- Take the meat out from the ziploc bag, clean the excess solution on the meat and put on a thin layer of flour mix; pat down the excess flour.
- Heat the oil to medium high heat and fry the meat twice until golden. Put the fried meat in a bowl for later use.
- In a fry pan, add ⅓ spoon of vegetable oil and lightly stir fry some sliced onion and bell pepper(optional).
- In the sauce pan, add 1 spoon of sugar(add ½ spoon if use water/broth instead of pineapple juice), 2 spoon of vinegar, 3 spoon of tomato paste, 3 spoon of diced pineapple/apple/citrus(or as much as you like) and half cup of unsweetened pineapple/apple/citrus juice(can be substitute by water/broth). Bring the sauce to boil and let it simmer to desired consistance.
- Add the sauce and fried meat to the fry pan and stir fry to make the sauce cling onto all vegetable and meat.
- Get ready and ENJOY!