Panda Express Orange Chicken

Do you love to eat-out but hate the expense? What if you could easily re-create your favorite dishes at home, for a fraction of the cost? If you like American Chinese cuisine, then you’ll definitely want to try this Panda Express Orange Chicken recipe! It is the tangiest, most flavorful and delicious orange chicken recipe out there.

Panda Express is a fast casual restaurant chain that serves American Chinese cuisine. Mainly found in the United States, where it was founded, restaurants are typically located in shopping mall food courts but may also be located in universities, casinos, airports and military bases. There are over 1,700 restaurants located across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, Mexico, Korea and the UAE. The chain offers Chinese-cuisine inspired dishes, such as Orange Chicken, Beijing Beef and Kung Pao Chicken. Founded in 1973 by Andrew Cherng and his father, Master Chef Ming Tsai Cherng, the company has seen great success (due in large part to its tasty dishes).

If you have never had the pleasure of eating at Panda Express, that’s not a problem. I guarantee you will love this copycat Orange Chicken recipe anyway. Orange Chicken is, of course, an American Chinese dish and is of Hunan origin. Mostly commonly it consists of chopped, battered and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce which thickens or caramelizes to a glaze. Orange chicken is a slight variation on General Tso’s Chicken (more sweet, less heat). The dish is also called “orange chicken peel” and in China the dish is known as “old peel chicken”, which refers to dried orange peel that is used in both traditional Chinese medicine and in cooking. For restaurants outside of China, however, typically fresh orange peel (or orange zest) is often used.

This recipe obviously gets its name from the “orange sauce” that coats the chicken. Orange sauce is a simple 5-ingredient recipe and you likely already have at least 4 of the 5 ingredients in your pantry. What makes this sauce so ‘special’, though, is the addition of the zest of an orange. Oranges date back to Chinese literature circa 214 BCE and as of 1987, orange trees were found to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world (with the highest production in Brazil and the U.S. states of California and Florida). Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and while they are sweet, they are also acidic. Both are beneficial to the flavor profile of this orange chicken recipe.

To cook the chicken you can use either a deep fryer or a more traditional wok. If you opt for the wok, make sure you don’t overfill it with oil. Also, make sure to drain your chicken on a piece of paper towel cooking to remove all excess oil. This dish is meant to be sticky rather than oily. And if you want to make it a complete dish, consider serving over a bed a jasmine rice (which is a long-grain variety of rice with a sweet, aromatic fragrance). Jasmine rice tends to be “sticky”, more so than American long-grain rice, and has a slightly sweet flavor, which is a perfect pairing with this orange chicken recipe.

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