It’s the weekend again, time for me to turn the kitchen back into my personal playground and culinary laboratory. I’ve always been one to dive in and learn new things as I go, unwilling to follow a script. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it means we’ll eat cereal for dinner. But at least I’m learning in the process.
Yesterday, I asked my son what he’d like me to create for dinner. He answered with a resounding endorsement for Chinese food and a suggestion of orange chicken. I didn’t have the proper tools to make the battered orange chicken common in Chinese restaurants, but I set out to make my own version that would be healthier and just as tasty.
I started with the following ingredients:
- 2 large boneless, skinless breast halves, cut into small pieces
- 4 mini bell peppers, diced
- One medium onion, diced
- 3 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 10 baby carrots, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 cup orange juice
- Zest of one small orange
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 13 oz lo mein noodles
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil in french oven (or skillet) on stovetop.
- Coat chicken pieces in flour, the cook until brown.
- Remove the chicken to a dish and use a couple of tablespoons orange juice to deglaze the pan.
- Start boiling water in a separate pan (to cook lo mein noodles)
- Add peppers, onion, carrots and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
- In a small sauce pan, combine remaining orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.
- Add dry lo mein nooodles to boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Slowly whisk 2 Tbsp. flour into sauce and stir until thickened.
- Add the zest of one small orange to sauce.
- Add chicken to vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Incorporate sauce into chicken and vegetables and stir until fully coated.
- Serve chicken and vegetables on top of noodles.
As prepared, this recipe makes 5 moderate servings, each about 450 calories, 33g protein and 5g fat. (Compare this to Panda Express Orange Chicken with Chow Mein at 900 calories and 43g fat.)
As luck would have it, my family liked last night’s creation. I’d probably increase the soy and (if you like your food spicy) the red pepper flakes when I make it again.
You know what the best part about getting creative in the kitchen? As I write this, I’m enjoying some of the leftovers.