Mandarin Orange Chicken at Home: #147 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

When you can’t get out to a Chinese restaurant, or want a healthier alternative made fresh in your kitchen, try this recipe! Kids love it too, and everyone went back for second or third helpings. The orange sauce is delicious. We served it in bowls on a bed of rice and stir-fried cabbage.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($11.50 total to serve 5 people)

Orange sauce:
1 cup orange juice – $0.75
1/2 cup brown sugar – $0.26
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar – $0.54
1/4 cup soy sauce – $0.40
1/2 tsp ginger – $0.14
1/2 tsp garlic powder – $0.14
1 tbsp cornstarch – $0.10

Chicken:
3 large chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized chunks – $6.54
3 eggs, beaten – $0.87
2/3 cup flour – $0.10
2/3 cup cornstarch – $1.20
1/2 cup canola oil for frying in batches – $0.37

Directions

1. Prepare your ingredients. In a medium pot, mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn it down to medium low heat and simmer for several minutes, stirring frequently, until it gets nice and thick. Turn down to low and move on to the chicken.

Put the eggs in one bowl and the flour and cornstarch mixture in another bowl. Working in batches, dip several chunks of chicken into the egg mixture, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the flour mixture. Cover them in flour and put on a plate to be ready to cook.

2. Cook the chicken. Pour 1/3 of the canola oil into a large pan and turn it up to high heat, almost maximum but not so hot as to make the oil smoke. Drop 1/3 of the floured chicken into the oil and cook it for several minutes, turning the pieces over frequently, until they are nice and golden on the outside and you can cut into one without seeing any pink inside.

Repeat this process until all the chicken is cooked, then return all the chicken to the pan and pour the sauce over top. Mix well.

3. Serve in individual bowls over rice, stir-fried vegetables, or noodles. Mandarin orange chicken is a crispy, juicy, sweet and savory, delicious treat for the whole family!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 13/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Garlic Eggplant with Zucchini: #11 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

In my 10 years of practicing tai chi, we ate at a lot of Chinese restaurants after class. My favorite dish was always the garlic eggplant, so I thought I’d try recreating it here. Bonus challenge: my husband says he doesn’t like eggplant. Maybe this dish will change his mind?

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($5.86 total)

1 medium eggplant, chopped – $2.49
1 tsp salt – $0.02
3 medium zucchini, chopped – $2.49
1 tbsp cornstarch – $0.10
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil – $0.30
4 cloves garlic, minced – $0.14
3 tbsp soy sauce – $0.15
1 tbsp sugar – $0.06
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water – $0.03
1/2 tsp ground ginger – $0.08

Directions

1. Coat the chopped eggplant in the salt and let sit for 1 hour to drain the water out of the eggplant and prevent it from being chewy. 

2. Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel, combine with the zucchini, and toss the vegetables with the cornstarch to coat.

Heat the toasted sesame oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic starts to turn golden.

3. Add the vegetables and stirfry for 8-10 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and dissolved cornstarch in a small bowl.

Once the vegetables are done, add the sauce to the pan with the veggies and stir for another minute or so to thicken the sauce. Serve hot as a tasty side dish.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 1 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!