This low-cal version of the Chinese take-out favorite is tasty, easy, and a much healthier twist on the classic “Orange Chicken.” The main problem with the Chinese take-out version is that the pieces of chicken are first dipped in a batter, fried in oil, then wok fried again in the spicy, sweet orange glaze. While very delicious if done right, it is incredible high in calories. So, be warned, my version uses no oil and should not be compared to the style you many be used to. I’m just taking the same flavor profile; the sweet orange, the spicy chilies, the Asian condiments, from the traditional recipe and making something much lighter, but still very tasty.
If you’ve tried our Caramel Chicken recipe, this clip has a very similar procedure. As we did in that recipe, we also use a bit of Fish Sauce, which is well worth finding. Once an exotic “secret ingredient” only found in Asian kitchens, Fish Sauce is now found in all the higher-end grocery chains’ Asian food sections right next to the soy sauce. And, of course any Asian market will have several varieties that are probably far superior to the one I showed in the demo. If you can’t find it, this will still work, but since Fish Sauce has a unique salty flavor you may have to adjust with a bit more soy, or regular salt.
Now, as you’ll soon see I cooked this dish right in a regular old sauté pan. I don’t own a wok, and to be honest have never been a big fan. I know, I know, they are great for these stir-fries and you can put the food on the sides and the bottom stays hot, and blah, blah, blah, BUT for the average cook there are two main problems with the wok. One, to be used effectively you need a really hot flame. My “Sears special” gas stove just doesn’t crank out enough heat to really take advantage of the wok’s design. And, if you have an electric stove forget about it. If you ever saw the flame under a real wok in an Asian restaurant you would be amazed how insanely hot they are. The other problem is that 90% of the woks sold in American stores are cheap, poorly made, and almost impossible to “season” properly. By season I mean getting the wok’s cooking surface to the point where the food doesn’t easily stick, similar to seasoning a new cast iron pan.
The other reason I don’t have one is for the amount of times I would use it (assuming I had a nice gas stove and bought a well-made and properly seasoned wok), doesn’t justify the space that the thing takes up. Next time you are snooping around someone’s kitchen or pantry, notice which pan is always on the bottom of the stack, holding all the other pans… yep, that old dusty and probably rusty wok. But, for those of you that love woks, and use them regularly, God bless you (or Buddha). I’m happy you enjoy your wok, and by all means keep on woking! Enjoy the clip.
8-10 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl grated ginger
1 bunch green onions
1 jalapeno pepper
1 bell pepper
4 oz sugar snap peas, or snow peas (a handful)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp hot chili flakes
2 tbl orange zest
cilantro to garnish
*I served on some brown rice, which was a very nice combo with the orange flavors, since the brown rice has that slight nuttiness to it.