Chinese Chicken Four Ways

My Dad’s 86th birthday is coming up. Dad has a traditional birthday dinner – Chinese. We usually get take out since my sister’s children do not eat Chinese. That’s too bad, because we have a great restaurant near our house, and there’s also a great restaurant near the farm. But it’s gotta be take out. That got me to thinking . . .

Have you ever noticed that when you get those frozen boxes of Chinese Chicken to cook up at home, the chicken is the same no mater what “flavor” you have. Only the sauce is different. That got me to thinking. I have a great recipe for pan-fried Sweet and Sour Chicken. What would happen if I made the chicken, then finished it off with different sauces and garnishings? Would I have a banquet of Chinese favorites?

Chinese Chicken Four Ways
Chinese Lemon Chicken
Chinese Orange Chicken 
General Tsao’s Chicken 
Sweet and Sour Chicken

The chicken is going to be the same for all four recipes, so feel free to make plenty if you feel one breast per dish isn’t going to be enough. The sauces can be made earlier in the day, and simply warmed when ready to serve. One way to warm the sauces would be to pour some over each chicken dish and warm it in the oven. Another would be to warm the sauce in skillets and add the chicken. A third would be in a microwave. Whatever works for you and your kitchen setup.

Let’s get to cooking, shell we?

Pan Fried Chicken
2 1/4 cups Self-rising flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups water
4 large Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt and white pepper. Whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, whisk egg with vegetable oil. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir to blend.

Add water, 1/2 cup at a time and blend with a fork to create a thick batter. Set aside and let rest.

Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Lay breasts on a cutting board and cut into 1-inch chunks.

Place chicken pieces into the batter. Stir to get all the chicken pieces well coated. Set aside while the oil heats.

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Oil should be about 2 inches deep.

Using tongs and working in batches, remove chicken one piece at a time and place in hot oil. DO NOT overcrowd the pan or allow pieces to touch while frying. Fry for about 5 minutes, turn or roll over and continue to fry another 5 minutes, until pieces are golden and puffy.

Remove chicken pieces from skillet using a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat until all the chicken pieces have been fried.

Keep chicken warm in the oven on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. This chicken will be used to create all the chicken dishes.

When ready to use, divide chicken into fourth, one breast for each sauce.

Chinese Lemon Chicken Bites
Lemon Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1 pinch of chili pepper flakes (optional, adds a slight kick)
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
zest of one lemon

In a small sauce pan over medium heat mix together all sauce ingredients, except corn starch, and stir until sugar melt.

Bring to a boil, and let cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, whisk in corn starch. Keep warm until ready to serve.

1/4 Cup Sliced Green Onions
1 tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds

Slice green onions and set aside until ready to use.

When ready to serve, top glazed chicken with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve and enjoy.

Chinese Orange Chicken Bites
Orange Sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (fermented rice wine)
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seed oil
2 teaspoons grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 1 orange
1 tablespoon corn starch
4 (2-inch) strips dried orange peel (see note)
2 teaspoons peanut, vegetable, or canola oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about one 1-inch piece)
2 teaspoons thinly sliced scallion bottoms (about 1 scallion)

Combine soy sauce, wine, vinegar, chicken stock, sugar, sesame seed oil, orange zest and juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. Add dried orange peel. Set aside.

Combine oil, garlic, ginger, and minced scallions in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are aromatic and soft, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir sauce mixture and add to skillet, making sure to scrape out any sugar or starch that has sunk to the bottom. Cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a bowl to stop cooking. Hold until ready to serve

General Tsao’s Chicken
General Tsao’s Sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth

Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. You can make ahead of time and refrigerate until needed, shaking again when you are ready to use it.

To Finish
2 bunches of green onions
6 dried chilies, hot
Handful Asparagus, chopped

Once all the chicken has been fried, add green onions and hot pepper to the now empty wok and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Stir sauce mixture in with the onions and pepper in the wok, and cook until thick. You will see it begin to bubble and thicken. Add chicken and asparagus to sauce and mix together quickly. Cook for just 1-2 minutes and serve over rice.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 (8 oz) can Pineapple Chunks, juices reserved
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Distilled White Vinegar
4 drops Orange Food Coloring
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup Chicken Broth

Place a strainer over a cup or bowl, drain pineapple and reserve the juice. Set pineapple chunks aside.

In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice and food coloring.

Place saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Let liquid come to a full boil.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, blend cornstarch with chicken broth. Set aside until liquid in saucepan comes to a boil.

Remove saucepan from heat.

Slowly add cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken.

Return to low heat and let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally.

1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
Pineapple Chunks

While chicken is frying, core and cut bell peppers into chunks. Spread out in a microwave safe dish. Place into microwave and heat on high for about 3 minutes. The peppers should be warm yet retain that fresh crispness.

Remove peppers from microwave, add pineapple chunks and toss to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

Serving Suggestions: Basic Fried Rice, Steamed White Rice or Spicy Stir-Fry Noodles.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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