Weekend Recipe: Healthier Orange Chicken & Tofu

On Monday I visited our summer camp in Ventura, CA (my hometown!) to see this recipe in action.

I’ve been tinkering it for years and finally have the perfect version.  Plus in our class we have all of the kids make the classic and vegetarian (with tofu) version.

Orange Chicken From a Chinese Restaurant:

  • More fat because each piece is deep-fried
  • Often uses low-quality chicken
  • More calories because they use chicken thighs
  • Sauce is WAYYY too sweet most of the time because of too much sugar

Orange Chicken From Our Cooking Class:

  • Less fat because we par-fry each piece in a few tablespoons of oil rather than cups
  • Less calories because we use boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Sauce has a hint of sweetness from honey, which is better for you than granulated white sugar

Healthier Orange & Tofu Chicken

A Chinese Classic made of juicy pieces of chicken coated with a delicious orange sauce.  Our version is healthier because 1) Its not deep fried  and 2)  We use only a bit of honey to sweeten the sauce so its not overly sweet.

Active Time: 15 min     –     Start to Finish: 40 min       Serves: 12 kids
Ingredients 
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, whisked
3 cups breadcrumbs
2 lb pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 pack of Extra-firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 ½ cups orange juice
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tbs cornstarch + 2 Tbs water
½ cup green onion, chopped
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Directions
Place the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls.  Season chicken and tofu with a pinch of salt.  Take a few pieces of tofu and place them in the flour making sure to coat each piece evenly.  Dust off the excess flour and put it in the egg mixture to coat.  Next put the tofu pieces in the breadcrumbs, shake off excess and remove to a plate.  Continue until all tofu is breaded.  Repeat the same process with the chicken.

Heat about ¼ cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the tofu pieces in small batches and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes, flipping halfway.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until all of the tofu are cooked.  Repeat the same process with the chicken.  Cut one large piece in half to make sure it’s fully cooked and white on the inside.

In a bowl, mix the orange juice, honey, soy sauce and cornstarch.  Clean the pan and add 1 Tbs oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the orange juice mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes until it is reduced and slightly thickened.  Add the tofu, stir for 1 minute and remove.  Repeat with the chicken and stir until coated, then remove to a large plate.  Serve Orange Chicken & Tofu topped with green onions and a drizzle of extra sauce!  It’s great served with rice and cooked vegetables
Nutrition Learning:  In class we spotlight one classic ingredient in Asian cuisine: ginger

  • It helps relieve stomach nausea and pain.
  • It’s got Vitamin B6, which helps support brain function and improve your mood
  • It’s got Zinc, which help your immune system fight colds

Culture Learning: History of Orange Chicken
Orange chicken, as we know it, is believed to have come from Chinese dishes that are both sweet and sour.  It is popular in America and you won’t find it on a menu in China.  It’s made of battered and fried pieces of chicken that are coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce, which thickens or caramelizes to a glaze.   Chef Andy Kao claims to have developed the original Chinese-American orange chicken recipe at a Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987.

Are you going to try making this recipe with your kids this weekend?

Best,
Chef Eric

P.S.  Have you heard what parents are saying about our Cooking Birthday Parties?

==>  Experience A Fun, Stress-free Cooking Birthday Party

“The birthday was very well-organized and fun!  The Chef Teachers were great with the kids – very nice, polite, and in tune with what interested the kids. The food was super, and the kitchen was clean at the end of the party!” – Jamie, parent

“Having Chef Eric and his team was a one stop-shop. Dinner, an entertaining activity, prepping and even cleaning all occurred under his experienced hands. My husband and I didn’t have to lift a finger.  Highly recommend and would do it again in a heartbeat.”  – Wendy, parent

“The party was fantastic!  The instructor really engaged the kids, and helped make the whole day a success”  –-Mike, Parent

 

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