Orange chicken, orange pork, orange tofu, orange beef, salmon with orange sauce. What do think all these dishes have in common? Hint: it’s the wonderful orange sauce that’s adaptable to many meals (even some desserts!) Best of all, it’s simple to make at home without artificial flavorings or refined sugars.
We’re going to make a simple stir fry, but the orange sauce will work as a condiment as well.
I took advantage of the versatile nature of a stir fry to use up the last couple carrots and green onions from the crisper. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and snap peas came from the freezer. All of these ingredients are optional. Feel free to substitute with whatever veggies and protein you may have on hand. It’s the sauce that pulls it all together.
To make the sauce you’ll need to supreme the orange. That means to remove the sections from the membrane like you see in nice fruit salads. Here’s a great video demonstrating how to do this. You’ll need to zest the orange before cutting the supremes to capture as much flavor from the orange as possible. I use a microplane.
For the orange sauce
- 2 medium oranges
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (add more if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons honey (you can easily add more, depending on your taste)
- pinch red pepper flake (optional, but good, even with pound cake(!))
- 1/2 cup orange juice or juice of a third orange (optional to increase the volume if necessary)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with 2 teaspoons water for thickening
For the stir fry
- 1 pound chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (I didn’t measure, it was a couple grinds on the grinder)
- 2 medium carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 green onions, cut into inch long pieces (include the light green parts)
- 12 ounce pack snap peas, thawed
- Place the chicken pieces in a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.
- If serving with rice, start it now. Keep an eye on it throughout the process.
- To make the sauce, you’ll need a pie plate or something similar to catch the zest and juices of the oranges. Zest each orange over the pie plate. Then, use a sharp knife to remove the rest of the peel. Cut out the sections from the membrane, allowing the juice to run into the plate. (See the video in the text for a demonstration.) Save the fruit, juice and zest for the sauce.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the rice wine vinegar, honey and red pepper flake to boiling. Then add the zest, orange supremes and juice. Add more orange juice if necessary to increase the volume of the sauce. Simmer until the mixture reduces slightly.
- While the sauce is going, heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the chicken and allow to brown on all sides. If it sticks to the pan, add a little more oil and wait until the pieces release.
- Remove the chicken from to a plate. Without cleaning the skillet, add the carrots and snap peas and cook for a couple minutes until crisp/tender. Return the chicken and any juices to the skillet and add the green onions. Stir fry for a few more minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Push the stir fry towards the edges of the skillet, making a well in the center. Pour the orange sauce into the well.
- If you want to thicken the sauce further add the slurry of cornstarch and water to the well, and stir to combine. The sauce will thicken and take on a nice sheen. Mix everything together to coat.
- To serve spoon some rice onto a plate and top with the sauce. Spoon more sauce on top.
I wasn’t kidding when I said this is a versatile sauce. It’s more sweet than tangy, in my opinion. Try it over a slice of pound cake or vanilla ice cream (cut back or omit the red pepper flakes if you prefer). How does a stir fry of pork tenderloin with green peppers and onions sound? If you don’t care to make a stir fry, spoon the sauce over a nice piece of salmon, steamed carrots or broccoli.
How will you enjoy your Orange Fill In The Blank?