I am never going to Panda Express again. Okay, that’s not true, but I will definitely make this Orange Chicken again. It was almost as easy as driving all the way to the other side of town for take out.
Sometimes I get a little carried away with themed dinners (remember the Indian Feast?) and Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect excuse to go over the top with Chinese food. It started out simply — I saw an recipe for Orange Chicken that I just had to try. I thought I’d throw in some tried and true Pork Dumplings. Then I accidentally bought wonton wrappers instead of dumpling wrappers, so when I went back to the store I picked up some cream cheese to make Crab Rangoons. Next thing you know, we’re having a four-course meal. Since this was the first Valentine’s Day Glenn and I have ever spent together, I figured we’d make up for lost time.
The Orange Chicken was everything I hoped it would be. The sauce had strong citrus flavors, which made the entire dish tangy and bright. The recipe seemed a little light on the garlic and ginger, so Glenn doubled it. The great thing about making it yourself is that you can make it as spicy or sweet as you want.
The Pork Dumplings turned out perfectly. The water was barely simmering when I put them in — it was 212 degrees, but there were no bubbles — and I think that helped keep them in tact.
The Crab Rangoons didn’t exactly turn out. Several of them burst in the oil, others seemed understuffed, and the rest were nothing special. I didn’t notice any correlation between the wrapping techniques and the tendency to break (I tried folding them in half to form a triangle, folding the corners over the top to form a square, and bringing all the corners to the top). I wasn’t too disappointed since I never intended for these to be a part of the meal anyway.
It was a bit of an endeavor to have everything done at the same time, but we worked out a nice little schedule. First, we prepped each piece. Glenn cut the chicken into pieces and tossed it with egg and flour; he chopped and measured the ingredients for the sauce; he mixed the pork stuffing; I assembled the dumplings and rangoons. That took a little more than an hour with two people working the whole time. Then we took a break for an hour. Then we went back and put the rice on, fried the rangoons, and fried the chicken in batches. When I put the last batch of chicken in, Glenn added the corn starch to the sauce to finish it off and I put the dumplings in the (not really boiling) water. That took about half an hour.
We froze the leftover dumplings and rangoons (you can boil and fry them straight out of the freezer) and we stored the chicken and sauce separately so the breading wouldn’t get soggy. I’m off to reheat it all now.