I remember really liking Americanized Chinese food from a very young age. I am sure it had a lot to do with the methods of preparation all those sugary, salty, breaded, and fried dishes triggered my brain to release a shot of dopamine into my system. I considered it to be feel good food. Only it wasn’t making me feel good. After a large meal (and they were always large) would feel bloated, lethargic, antsy, and other urgent unladylike sensations. It amazes me that I ever thought I enjoyed eating that way.
As a result of changing my eating habits I have weaned my palate from craving the restaurant style versions of these foods but I still enjoy the basic flavor combinations. I enjoy the fresh taste of steamed or stir-fried vegetables, the brightness of citrus zest, or the tang from a splash of soy or fish sauce. Maybe once a year or so we have an opportunity to eat from a Chinese restaurant and I still enjoy it but in the same volume. Now I choose items that are not breaded and fried, I prefer brown rice to white, and a start with a salad if it is available. I am still a sucker for a crispy egg roll but I plan for it.
For the past week or so I really had a hankering for orange chicken. It could have been the approaching Lunar New Year celebration or perhaps I was influenced by my husband reading to me ways to prevent scurvy. Either way over the weekend I got busy and started zesting and mixing to make something to feed my craving. I also grabbed a trusty bag of frozen veggies and some leftover brown rice to make a “fried” rice side dish. The final product was not exactly restaurant caliber but it was delicious and totally hit the spot!
Orange Ginger Chicken – Marinade
This marinade would also be great with tofu. I made it with 3 butterflied boneless chicken breasts but try it with chicken thighs or skewers and if the weather cooperates throw it all on the grill!
In a small bowl combine:
- zest of a small orange
- 1 TB frozen orange juice concentrate
- about 1/2 an inch of grated ginger root
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
- If desired thin with up to 1/4 c. of water.
Marinade Chicken or Tofu for at least 30 minutes before baking or grilling. Grill or bake until just done, being careful not to over cook as the meat will dry out and become tough.
Easy Fried Rice
I have been doing this with leftovers for a long time. I don’t think it is original and I can’t call this a recipe as much as a handy method for a whipping up a quick side or main dish. It is delicious, and quick, and easy and pretty much anything can go into this dish and any leftover grain will work. Play around with it and have fun!
- Heat a wok or large sauté pan to medium high heat.
- Warm 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (or fresh) until room temperature (add non-stick spray or a touch of oil if needed)
- Add 1 cup of leftover rice (refrigerated overnight) and allow to get toasty stirring occasionally
- Grate about 1/4 of an inch of fresh ginger root into the pan.
- Once the rice is toasty and the vegetables are heated thought add approximately 1 TB soy sauce and 1/2 tsp of Sriracha (hot) sauce -more or less to taste. Fold sauces into the rice mixture and allow to get a little more toasty. Watch carefully after adding the sauces as they burn easily.
- Top it off with a little fresh cilantro, citrus zest, or chopped green onion for an extra zing.
Makes about 3 one cup side dish servings.
Play with the quantities to fit the number of servings desired and adjust the spices to suit your tastes. Turn this into a main dish by adding some protein. Dice leftover chicken, pork, or tofu, add a lightly scrambled egg, toss in a handful of edemame or all of the above!