If you've ever been to a Trader Joe's, you understand it's allure. I can't walk out of that place without a basket full of provisions, most that I don't really need. Spinach-Artichoke Dip? Frozen pizzas with interesting toppings? Spring rolls? Chocolate-covered espresso beans? Chocolate-covered almonds? Chocolate-covered ANYTHING?
The star of the show at TJ's: Trader Ming's (ha, good one) Mandarin Orange Chicken. This stuff is wonderful. Chunks of tender breaded chicken that only take like 25 minutes to heat in the oven until they're nice and crispy? A sweet orange sauce/glaze that covers the chicken and flavors your rice, too? Outstanding. However, this dish is not outstanding in the health department. Shocker, I know. I even serve it with a side of broccoli to try to pretend it's a healthy meal. Sadly, I'm fooling no one.
Luckily, it's pretty easy to make a much-healthier orange chicken dish at home! The TJ's version takes about 30 minutes to prepare, and this version shouldn't take you much longer than that, if you exclude the hour it's sitting in the fridge to marinate. What I generally do is come home from work, prep the marinade (or even prep it the night before!), toss the chicken in, then spend an hour catching up on household chores. Or, to be honest, watching the most recent episode of "Girls." But that's only a half hour show, so I spend the OTHER half hour doing those chores. Of course I do. And hey, if you're really pinched for time - don't marinate it. I won't be upset. Proceed with the recipe, skipping the marinating part. Just cook the chicken on it's own, and then use the entire batch of the orange juice mixture as the sauce. Extra saucy.
The best part of this dish is, it's so flexible. I find myself doing "add-ons" to the TJ's version when I have it. I'll add green onions, srirarcha or sambal oelek, and sometimes sesame seeds. This recipe is the same way - add some extras if you want, take out some things you don't have on hand, and it'll turn out just fine. I promise.
Spicy Orange-Ginger Chicken
1-1/4 cups orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed) (make sure you zest 1 of the oranges first!)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons sriracha (or more if you want it really spicy)
1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1-1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Brown rice, white rice or quinoa for serving
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1. In small bowl, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, sriracha, vinegar, brown sugar, orange zest and pepper. Place chicken in a large ziploc bag; pour 1/3 cup marinade over chicken. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour.
2. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Heat large skillet or wok over high heat. Add remaining oil. In 2 batches, add chicken and cook each batch 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and has lost its pink color throughout, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Reduce heat to medium-high; add remaining marinade to skillet; heat to boiling. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water; whisk into marinade, and boil 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet; cook 1 minute or until heated through. Serve over rice or quinoa, sprinkled with green onions.