one of my nephews is nursing a fresh hurt. a day before his birthday last month, he had to get stitches on his jaw. he went back to the skate park right after the procedure. now, it’s a fractured ankle from a freak tray flip landing, (that produced the most divine drug-induced comedy in the er) which won’t allow him to return to the skate park until possibly the end of summer. but he’s out of the tunnel and mostly he’s been asking for pancakes – the syrup doesn’t fall far from the maple family tree. he’s also got a thing for orange chicken. it’s not my favourite, but since we’re all doing our part to dull some of his suffering, i fried some up.
i didn’t expect almost a hundred pieces of orange popcorn chicken but that’s what happened. everyone was happy with this meal. i was asked a lot of what was in the sauce, and how i made it. the orange zest really added a foreign flavour, almost ginger-like. there’s a slight gentle heat before the slow sweetness of the orange juice, and the tang of the rice vinegar comes through. the chicken was really crispy! pretty good stuff.
orange popcorn chicken:
2 lbs pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
two cups non-glutinous rice flour (you can use wheat flour, but i find rice flour doesn’t burn as much)
1/2 cornstarch (i find this makes a crispier fry)
2 tsp salt
1tbs garlic powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs paprika
1 tsp pepper
slice ’em chicken thighs to bite sizes pieces.
2 egg whites
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
mix the rice flour and cornstarch, and season with salt, onion and garlic powder, pepper and paprika.
mix the milk, yolk, and egg whites, season with season with salt, onion and garlic powder, pepper and paprika.
salt and drown the chicken pieces in the egg wash, then toss ’em in the flour. coat ’em really good. a deep tupperware with a lid works best. i find things fry up better when they’re cold. freeze the coated chicken for about 15 minutes.
heat 4 cups of oil
fry ’em chicken up in batches to a golden brown
1 tbs sesame oil (you can use whatever oil you have)
3 cloves garlic
3 tbs soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 sweet oranges
1 tbs red pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs cornstarch
1/3 cup water
on medium heat, toss ’em minced garlic in the heated oil. add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and zest one of the oranges into the sauce. then squeeze the juices too. add the red pepper flakes and paprika. cook for at least five minutes. turn the heat down to low, add the slurry and cook until it thickens to your liking. then pour the sauce through a sieve.
coat, dip or drizzle the fried popcorn chicken with the sauce.