Szechuan Baked Orange Chicken

This version is a lot healthier, it is baked rather than fried. Still as crunchy and tasty. The trick is to mix the chicken in the sauce at the last minute. Try it. Much better than any take away restaurant food.
Arm yourself with a little patience, or have the children help you dunk the chicken pieces in the flour first, then egg mixture and finally in the Panko breadcrumbs.

The sauce is ready in minutes. Prepare all your ingredients in a bowl and pour in a hot wok. With the addition of cornstarch, it will thicken in minutes. I have reduced the amount of sugar considerably, to maintain the acidity and sharpness of the dish.

1 Kg. of chicken thighs. You can use chicken breast, but I find chicken thighs tastier and more flavourful.
1/2 Cup of All purpose flour in a bowl
3 Eggs beaten, in a bowl
1 Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs (which I process in a mixer to a fine powder-like texture. You can also use it whole)

For the Sauce
2 Garlic Cloves minced finely
2 Cm. Ginger finely grated
1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Flakes or Chinese dried pepper cut in small pieces
1 large orange zested
1/2 Cup of Orange juice – The juice of 1 large orange
3 Tablespoons Soya Sauce
1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil – which you pour last to maintain its flavour
2 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar (or white wine if you have)
2 to 3 Tablespoons of Sugar – (The original Panda Restaurant recipe calls for 10 tablespoons… feel free to add as much as you like)
You can also substitute with 2 tablespoons of Honey
5 Tablespoon of White wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Sriracha Sauce – or more if you really like it spicy
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

Preheat your oven at 180 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit)
Cut you chicken in bite size pieces and dunk them in flour first, then egg mixture and finally in the Panko breadcrumbs.
Place the chicken on parchment paper and drizzle a few drops of olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes – I turn them halfway during the cooking period.

For the Sauce
Mince the garlic and ginger finely and saute in the vegetable oil.
Mix all the other ingredients in a small bowl, including the cornstarch and mix very well.
Then add the sauce and bring to a boil. As it starts to boil after a minute or so, it will thicken very quickly.
Mix in the chicken pieces and serve immediately, if not sooner !

Serve with Jasmine Rice – Steamed vegetables of choice.

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