Happy birthday, Orange Chicken.
There are a lot of home recipes now for this dish. But Panda Express, the country’s largest Chinese-American fast food chain, claims to have created this sweet and sour concoction, its signature dish, 30 years ago.
“Orange chicken is probably one of the most genius creation in the past 30 years,” gushes chef Jimmy Wang, who works out of Panda Express’ “innovation kitchen” in Pasadena. “It’s taking everything that we love — crispy fried chicken, tossed with savory sweet and sour sauce that really hits all the senses and taste buds in your mouth.”
Wang says Panda Express uses dark chicken meat coated with a light batter. The sauce is a balancing act of sweet and sour: a little yin — with brown sugar and honey — and a little yang — Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce and more.
Photos: Nina Gregory/NPR