sunday i made orange chicken and cashew zuchinni. i found the recipe about a month ago in a pile of magazines i was donating to the preschool i used to work for. sean is a pretty big fan of asian foods—specifically chinese and korean (thanks to me)—and he has been harping me to try out some recipes at home since we began living and eating together…nearly 3 years ago.
whenever people learn that i was born in korea they ask one of two things: “do you speak it?” and/or “do you cook it?”
it, being korean. and yes, people always say it, with eyes wide and smile even wider. the answer to both is no…unless you count bim, meaning rice or kimchi…meaning kimchi? like i said, i don’t speak it. but i digress, this is not about cooking korean food, it is about cooking chinese-ish food.
i had not a clue as to how to make anything chinese, i have always relied on my favorite restaurant (as far as reno goes this is it for me) to do the cooking. i think that in my mind failure to create a successful asian dish would just make me spiral into a deep and ridiculous depression and ask myself, “what kind of half-asian girl are you?” and, i am that person (we all know that person…or maybe we are that person) who won’t try something because the fear of failure paralyzes. i decided to just get over myself and try it out. because, what could really happen? nothing is the answer, except a potentially tasty (and unhealthy) meal for the dogs.
so finally, i did it. just for sean, i decided to make orange chicken. it was sweet and spicy and deliciously orangey. however, i added a teaspoon (the recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon) of red pepper flake (half to the sauce and half toasted in the pan with the orange peel) and next go around i think i will double the sauce.
i also made a quick side dish of cashew zuchinni—which was inspired by this dish—since sean was mildy concussed from a header he took at his soccer match earlier in the day and for him, the more food the better. he is a boy of simple needs and pleasures. i find food always satisfies both. the zucchini was incredibly easy and probably my favorite part of the not-so-authentic meal.
orange chicken with scallions
adapted from fine cooking magazine.
2 large navel oranges
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp light brown sugar (or honey)
1 tsp red pepper flake
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced thinly (garnish with green tops)
julienne orange peel. juice oranges into bowl and mix w/ soy, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon of red pepper flake.
season chicken and make batter out of egg whites, cornstarch, and salt. toss chicken in batter.
heat oil in skillet and cook chicken—cook in batches so chicken browns nicely. transfer to paper-towel lined plate.
cook orange zest strips in skillet with remainder of red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until darkened in spots. Stir sauce mixture and add to pan. let boil for about 10-30 seconds, reduce heat and allow to reduce (five mins). add chicken stirring often, reduce more if a thicker glaze is desired. garnish with scallion greens and serve with steamed rice.
zuchinni w/ cashews
2 small-medium zuchinni
½ cup cashews (cashew pieces are okay…and cheaper)
1 small clove garlic, minced
oil for pan
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp pineapple juice (orange would be okay too)
toast cashews in dry pan—watching carefully so as not to burn. set aside in bowl.
combine brown sugar, hoisin, and juice in small bowl, set aside.
cut zuchinni into thin sticks. heat oil over med-high heat, add zuchinni and garlic, cook for about two minutes, add cashews—toss to combine . add sauce mixture and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. serve with steamed rice.