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Lighter Orange Chicken Bowl Recipe

chicken with rice and broccoli
chicken with rice and broccoli - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Orange chicken is a Chinese takeout favorite, but as developer Deniz Vergara points out, many such dishes (including the popular orange chicken from Panda Express) involve deep-fried meat and sugary sauces. Her orange chicken bowl, however, is something she says has "all the flavors of Chinese takeout without the extra sodium and calories" since she sautees the chicken in a sauce that's heavy on fresh orange juice and light on sugar.

Vergara characterizes this recipe as "easy and straightforward," but she does say you should keep an eye on the sauce when it's cooking down. Reduce it too much, she cautions, and it will be too thick and sticky to work well in this dish. While Vergara builds out her orange chicken bowl with white rice and broccoli, she suggests that you could use fried rice or ramen noodles in place of the starch. If you're not a broccoli fan, other vegetables could work in its place, including onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, or bok choy.

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Collect The Ingredients For This Lighter Orange Chicken Bowl

ingredients for orange chicken
ingredients for orange chicken - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

The chicken used in this recipe is the boneless, skinless kind, and you'll also need baking soda, salt, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger for cooking. Making the sauce requires orange zest and juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, corn starch, ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper, and brown sugar, while you'll also need avocado oil, broccoli, cooked rice, scallions, and sesame seeds to build the bowl.

If you're wondering how many oranges are required to obtain sufficient juice for this dish, Vergara tells us that it took her two. Valencia oranges are some of the juiciest, but you can also use navel, cara cara, or blood oranges if you prefer.

Step 1: Marinate The Chicken

raw chicken in marinade
raw chicken in marinade - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Make the chicken: In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix together the chicken, baking soda, salt, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Set aside and marinate for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Stir Up The Orange Sauce

sauce and whisk in bowl
sauce and whisk in bowl - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Make the orange sauce: In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sweet chili sauce, corn starch, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper, brown sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Step 3: Heat Some Oil

frying pan with oil
frying pan with oil - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.

Step 4: Cook The Chicken

chicken chunks in pan
chicken chunks in pan - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook for 4–5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is almost fully cooked through (it will continue to cook once you add the sauce).

Step 5: Add The Sauce To The Pan

chicken chunks in pan
chicken chunks in pan - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Pour the sauce mixture into the skillet. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes.

Step 6: Stir In The Broccoli

chicken and broccoli in pan
chicken and broccoli in pan - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Add the broccoli florets, lower the flame to medium, and cover. Cook for 3 more minutes, until the broccoli is tender and bright green and the sauce is thickened.

Step 7: Decorate The Dish

hand scattering seeds over pan
hand scattering seeds over pan - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Turn off the flame and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

Step 8: Eat The Chicken With Rice

chicken with rice and broccoli
chicken with rice and broccoli - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Serve over white rice.

What Does Baking Soda Bring To This Orange Chicken Bowl?

raw chicken in marinade
raw chicken in marinade - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

You may be familiar with using baking powder as a (no longer) secret ingredient that will give your chicken extra-crispy skin, but what does baking soda do for a bird? We're not trying to give the skin extra crunch as Vergara uses boneless, skinless breasts. Instead, the baking soda she mixes into the marinade before the chicken cooks has the opposite effect.

"The baking soda," Vergara says, "is used to tenderize the chicken." She calls the technique "velveting" and says that this is a technique that's often used in Chinese cooking. The reason why it works is because the baking soda, when it combines with fat, protects the meat and locks in the moisture as it fries in the pan. As Vergara only uses a tiny amount of this ingredient, though, it shouldn't affect the taste at all, so you needn't have any fears on that front.

What Type Of Oil Is Best For Stir-Frying Chicken And Broccoli?

chicken and broccoli in pan
chicken and broccoli in pan - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

The reason why Vergara uses avocado oil to saute the chicken in this recipe is for health purposes. Avocado oil is, indeed, pretty nutritious stuff, containing both antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids. It can also make the nutrients in the broccoli easier for your body to absorb.

Overall, avocado oil has similar nutritional benefits to olive oil, although it does have a higher smoke point. As this recipe calls for sauteeing rather than deep frying, this will be less of an issue, and Vergara does say there are other oils you could use if you choose. She suggests vegetable oil, but sunflower, soybean, rice bran, peanut, grapeseed, corn, canola, or olive (regular or light, not extra virgin) would also be good options. Nut oils, flaxseed oil, toasted sesame oil, or EVOO aren't great choices, however, because their flavor tends to break down when they're heated.

Lighter Orange Chicken Bowl Recipe

chicken with rice and broccoli
chicken with rice and broccoli - Deniz Vergara/Mashed

Prep Time: 15mCook Time: 15mYield: 4 servingsIngredients

  • :::For the chicken:::

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ tsp minced fresh ginger

  • :::For the orange sauce:::

  • 1 orange, zested

  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

  • 1 ½ teaspoons corn starch

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • ½ tsp minced fresh ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • :::For cooking:::

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil

  • ½ cup bite-sized broccoli florets

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 1 scallion, sliced

  • :::For serving:::

  • 2 cups cooked white rice

Directions

  1. Make the chicken: In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix together the chicken, baking soda, salt, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Set aside and marinate for 10 minutes.

  2. Make the orange sauce: In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sweet chili sauce, corn starch, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper, brown sugar, and salt. Set aside.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.

  4. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook for 4–5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is almost fully cooked through (it will continue to cook once you add the sauce).

  5. Pour the sauce mixture into the skillet. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes.

  6. Add the broccoli florets, lower the flame to medium, and cover. Cook for 3 more minutes, until the broccoli is tender and bright green and the sauce is thickened.

  7. Turn off the flame and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

  8. Serve over white rice.

Read the original article on Mashed.