Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chicken with Orange and Scallions

The journey to improving my cooking skills is still in its first steps, but already I feel that I’ve made great strides. Strides that are taking me away from the rut of cooking the same twenty things over and over again. We’ve had some hits and some misses but we’re eating better – balance wise – than we used to, and with fresher ingredients. I find myself going to the grocery store more often, but it isn’t such a chore when you’re just picking up one or two fresh ingredients for a new dish you’re trying out.

Last night was one of the hits. We made Orange Chicken with Scallions from Fine Cooking's third annual. Very simple dish, with only one complaint from the diners. And even then the problem that caused the complaint would be a simple fix; there wasn’t enough sauce to go on the rice. The chicken itself was the best stir-fry chicken I’ve ever had, let alone made; tender, flavourful and really juicy without being underdone.

Turns out there is a simple secret to this. Figures! Prior to stir frying, the chicken – skinless breast meat, cut into one inch cubes – was tossed in a cornstarch batter. Not really a batter, they way we think of it, it was actually more of a bath. Two egg whites, a pinch of salt and 1/3 of a cup of cornstarch mixed together. I used my Magic Bullet, so it was really well mixed. Toss the chicken in this, and then using tongs put the pieces into the wok to stir fry.

We cooked half the chicken in one batch and put it aside, and then we did the other half and took it out too. Orange peel from a navel orange – cut in wide strips - cooked in the wok for about 30 seconds. Then the sauce went in (juice from the orange, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, same of rice vinegar, two teaspoons brown sugar and a pinch of chili flakes) for ten seconds before returning the chicken to the pan along with the white part of four to six green onions (save the greens for garnish).

Cook until the chicken is cooked through, which turned out to be two minutes for us. Serve over rice, garnish with slices of the green part of the onions or scallions, whichever you happen to be using. We don't get scallions here so I always use spring onions. There's more of a shape difference between the two than a taste difference anyway!

That’s the actual recipe. We’re having it again, but next time…twice the sauce. At least!

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