Fleshes: Fruit + Meat from Around the Globe | Chinese Orange Chicken

chinese-flag-small China

THE RAMBLE: Winner for Team Korea!

LET’S TALK ABOUT Fleshes: Fruit + Meat from Around the Globe. I finally have a spot for this little rant. I love looking at each different country’s use of this combination. So far, we have had Sage and Garlic Pork Loin with Berry Sauce and Tarragon Roasted Potatoes and Chicken Piccata on Spain vs Korea Recipes, with so many more coming soon. There is something so natural about putting these two things together, even though it is ironic or even perhaps a paradox. Life and death. Ground and sky. Rich and light. They are food for each other, and both a form of flesh. How deep and philosophical for an amateur food blog. I love Chef Alex Atala’s observation in Netflix’s Chef’s Table: “Behind every dish, there is death.” Whether it is a vegetable or meat, that is true. He points this out because of the deep respect he has for all the ingredients he uses, that every time we eat meat, death has happened. He is notorious for wearing a black t-shirt that says “Death Happens” for this very reason. He is one of the most incredible people I have seen or learned about and he loves who he is and what he has available to him. That makes me think that, no matter what, no matter what we are eating, let’s be so grateful for the availability of food we have to us and to be able to get online and look up delicious recipes and have so much good food to eat everyday. Ok. Good talk today.

LET’S TALK ABOUT Chinese food in America. We all love it. When done in a good restaurant, I can’t keep myself away. All the classics are delicious, from Kung Pao Chicken (coming soon!) to Cantonese Steamed Fish (coming soon!). They are “Americanized,” we are told, but each dish originates from different areas in China, Orange Chicken being from the Hunan province in southern China: (from Nations Online Project)

China map

This dish is so wonderfully balanced and so easy. Just a few ingredients for the sauce and simple prep. This recipe I follow pretty much exactly. The potato starch gives just a little bit of a different texture, and you can find it at Asian markets or in Gluten-Free sections of supermarkets. The orange marmalade gives such a freshness to it, and I love to add a “bitter” green to the dish, like kale, spinach or bok choi, stir fired in a little garlic. This with rice and some chili threads or fresh sliced red chilies is just outrageous! You will never need to go back to a restaurant with this fabulous recipe from Marc on No Recipes and this is the best version of this recipe I have found! So, here’s another great recipe for the East from China!

THE REVIEW:

If you love this kind of food, watch The Search for General Tso on Netflix. Such an interesting look at this kind of food and how we got it. Also on Netflix is Chef’s Table with two seasons of different chefs and their lives, stories and restaurants. Chef Alex Atala on season 2 will be your favorite and an episode you will watch AGAIN and AGAIN!

WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great Chinese food: Marc @norecipes from his blog No Recipes, Chungah @damn_delicious from her blog Damn Delicious, Bee @rasamalaysia from her blog Rasa Malaysia, the family blog The Woks of Life @thewoksoflife, Elaine @elaineseafish of China Sichuan Food.

THE RECIPE:

Fleshes: Fruit + Meat from Around the Globe: Chinese Orange Chicken. Winner for Team Korea!

Fleshes: Fruit + Meat from Around the Globe: Chinese Orange Chicken. Winner for Team Korea!

Chinese Orange Chicken and Garlic Spinach

Chicken adapted from No Recipes, serves 2-4, easy-level effort, about 30-45 mins to make

Chicken:

1 lb boneless-skinless chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips

1 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS Shaoxing rice wine or sake

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated through a rasp or microplane

1/2 cup potato starch or corn starch

Neutral oil (like Sunflower) for frying

Sauce:

2/3 cup orange juice, divided

1/3 cup orange marmalade

2 teaspoons potato starch cornstarch mixed into 1 TBS of the orange juice

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Garlic Spinach:

8 oz fresh spinach

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced or grated through a microplane

1 tsp olive oil

  1. Mix soy sauce, rice wine, and ginger in a medium size bowl, then add sliced chicken, mix together until evenly coated. Let marinate 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add olive oil and garlic to a skillet over medium heat. Once the garlic is fragrant and begins to soften, add spinach and cover with a lid and lower heat to low.
  3. Then, heat your oil (at least 2 inches in whatever size pot/fryer) to 350 degrees F.
  4. Mix together ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan, turn on medium-low heat, bring to a simmer.
  5. While sauce is coming to a simmer, add starch to a shallow dish and lightly coat a first batch of chicken (however much will fit into your pot/fryer without it over-crowding) with starch, shaking off excess, and add to the hot oil. Make sure you wash your hands if you handle any of the raw chicken.
  6. Once the chicken starts to get some color, drain on a paper towel, paper plate or cooling rack in a single layer. Check on the sauce. Once thickened, whisk together and turn to low heat, just to keep it from congealing. Then, stir spinach, turn off heat, and cover again.
  7.  Coat the next batch of chicken with starch, add to the hot oil, and remove to drain once it has some color. Continue this step until all the chicken has been coated and fried.
  8. Drain water from spinach by pushing it to one side of the pan, tilting the spinach at the top end of the pan, and pressing in it with your tongs, allowing the water to drain to the other end of the pan. Drain water into sink or move spinach to serving plate.
  9. Once all the chicken in done frying, add to a large mixing bowl, pour the warm sauce over the top and mix together until chicken is evenly coated, then serve immediately with rice and spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, chili threads, red pepper, red chilies, etc.
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