So as the title suggests, we're gonna do this in 3 separate parts. Why? Because (and please forgive me) this food creation was a BEAST! 2.5 hours and counting - not for the faint of heart!
And while a staunch part of me has planted it's proverbial flag in the ground to declare that it will never, EVER attempt this maddness again ... now that's been a little time since I made it ... I'm not so sure. I'm wondering if there's not some way or some thing I can do differently or more streamlined that would still allow this dish to be made from scratch but maybe be a little easier to prepare? Possibly.
Actually, I hope so, because it was really darn good and I'd like to give it another shot. But for now, here's the mountain path I plodded on down .. the first part anyway. So let's dive right in to
... the SAUCE!
... wait that's chicken. Right. Because I started with marinating the chicken first.
First, I cut up the chicken breasts into roughly 1" pieces.. Then I took some flour, orange juice (freshly squeezed), and soy sauce for a very runny batter (aka marinade).
I mixed in the chicken bits, and set to the side ... in the refrigerator ... because no one likes food poisoning.
And speaking of salmonella, once I was done with the chicken I washed up my work space, which is SUPER important. You don't have to be in a restaurant to understand the importance of keeping stuff safe.
Ok .. NOW the sauce. I looked at a couple different recipes online before diving into this mess, and it seemed pretty simple. Orange Zest, Orange Juice, Soy. Garlic. Rice Vinegar (which I didn't have and couldn't find at the little grocery shop near my house on the way home, so I subbed out white vinegar because some of the online ideas suggested that one instead).
BEHOLD! My team players ...
... except ... except the sugar and brown sugar that I totally forgot about until later ... and the corn starch ... which I didn't have and had to improvise (but we'll get to those soon enough)
I started by zesting the orange.
.. and apparently, my thumb too.
But in my defense, I've never used that part of my shredding contraption before. I had no idea how hungry the darn thing was OR how sharp. Lesson learned. Band-aid applied. The sojourn continues.
So I zested up the oranges,
And added the soy sauce and vinegar (process not shown). Roughly, I started with equal parts of juice and vinegar, but quickly realized that I needed more orange in the mix. good thing I picked up a little bottle of OJ, just in case! Then the garlic...
Now, I usually get my garlic whole and crush/mince it myself. I just like it better that way, but I supposed you could use jarred stuff too. Anywhoo, I started by peeling the whole clump (there's a technical term for this thing, but heck if it'll come to me right now).
Also, Between the juicing and mixing and peeling, the band-aid came off. RIP Band-Aid Number 1.
So I got a new one.
But back to the garlic. If you've never minced your own before, all you have to do is peel the cloves,
Place them one by one under the flat of your kitchen knife,
Then smash them.
Repeat for all cloves. Slide them together, then chop them up super fine.
Once that was done, I added them to the mix and got some heat under it.
I was stirring for a while when I decided to taste it again and it crossed my mind that I remembered Orange Chicken Sauce being sweeter .. at which point I was like, "OH CRAP! I FORGOT THE SUGARS!!!"
The brown sugar isn't pictured, but it was a light brown sugar that I used. I began adding them (mostly the brown) until things started to taste more normal for what I remembered. But the sauce was still more runny than I wanted. I remembered asking myself if the sugar would thicken it, telling myself this was a dumb question and OF COURSE it wouldn't ... and promptly remembered the 2nd thing I forgot - the corn starch.
Now I could'a SWORN I had some at home already, but either I was wrong or my corn starch is goram ninja. Either way, I never located it. So instead, I subbed with flour.
Simple slurry - get some flour,
Add water to flour,
Mix it up and pour it in to whatever boiling liquid you're hoping to thicken.
Honestly, it worked just fine. The biggest differences I've ever noticed between using Corn Starch and using Flour is that 1.) you need more flour than you do corn starch and 2.) corn starch keeps a clear broth/sauce while flour makes it a little more opaque/cloudy.
But, finally, after adding more sugar/soy/OJ and a good few minutes of nail-biting, WE HAD ORANGE SAUCE. All in all, this took about an hour and 20-30 minutes. Part I was finally done.
... I know usually I try to give amounts of the stuff I used at this part in the write up ... but I gotta come clean - I have no bloody clue. 2 oranges? roughly the same in vinegar but eyeballed? Plus more? some soy? 5 garlics? sugar I ... uh ... yeah ... there was sugar involved. Sorry folks no idea what the make up is.
But I'm pretty sure some of my own flesh and blood is in there too ... cuz hungry zester.
... and stay tuned for part II !