August 28, 2015
As school starts back up, Moms are looking for quick, weeknight dinner ideas, and this delicious recipe makes the grade! Its a lighter and faster home version of the popular deep fried sweet orange chicken found in many take out Chinese restaurants.
Good question... The heaviness of a dish can come from fat or sugar. The commercial version of orange chicken is breaded and deep fried. Not only does deep fat frying add fat to the dish, but the breading on the outside of the chicken adsorbs more fat during the frying process. Battering and frying also take longer to prepare. The second "heavy" is the very sticky sweet sauce over the chicken - it can be very sweet! We'll make a lighter sauce.
To get started we will reduce the fat by opting not to bread the chicken. Cut boneless skinless chicken breast into 1-inch pieces and trim any excess fat from the chicken. For speed you can purchase chicken fingers, which can be left whole if you prefer, or quickly cut across the finger to make bit size pieces.
To tackle the " second heavy," I replace the heavy, sticky sauce with a lighter sauce thickened with cornstarch.
Finely grate 1-tablespoon zest from orange, set aside. Squeeze juice. Drain canned oranges, reserving juice. Add enough canned juice to fresh squeezed juice to make ½-cup, set juice and oranges aside.
Combine orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, chicken broth and cornstarch. Add liquid to chicken, stir and cook until bubbly and thick. Stir in orange zest, grated ginger and optional chili garlic paste. Serve over steamed rice and vegetables. Top with sliced green onions and mandarin orange slices.
Yes it is a hot dish - but only in popularity! For the sensitive taste buds of young children or to suit hot loving taste buds - it is totally up to you. Key to the dish is the chili garlic paste. Find chili garlic paste down the ethnic aisle in your local grocery store or in Chinese markets. The recipe says 1-2 teaspoons (optional) - optional is key and use only to your taste. I do like the color it adds to the dish, but personally I prefer the milder version.
Kids can't learn on empty tanks - its not just the quantity of food, but the quality of the nutrition. As with all meals - adults and children alike - we need to balance our diet with foods from all food groups; dairy, fruit, vegetable, lean meat, whole grain. Mentally look at your meal and compare it to the 5 food groups.
In this case, we have a little fruit with the oranges, lean protein with chicken, rice is the grain (you may choose brown rice for a whole grain version), steamed broccoli for our vegetable - which tastes great with this dish, and last -
don't forget the milk.
Each food group offers a unique set of nutrients needed in the diet. One food group cannot replace another's nutrients. To help our kids to be better prepared for success in school we need to start them out right with balanced diet of all food groups. Help them set good habits for the school year by providing great tasting, nutritious food. This do it yourself, lighter orange chicken is a sure winner!