This meal was the closest I have made to tasting like real chinese – it was so excellent! The original meal below includes frying in peanut oil, but I just sauteed in a little bit of olive oil and it was still super crispy!
For the marinade and sauce:
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest
6 Tbs. white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
¼-½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbs. cold water
8 thin strips orange peel (optional)
1 cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut or canola oil
What you’ll do:
Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.
To make the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy. In a second pie plate or shallow bowl combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper. Whisk to blend. Drain the chicken from the marinade in a large strainer and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or large sauce pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking. Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
When all the chicken has been fried, reheat the sauce if necessary, and toss with the chicken in a large bowl. Serve over rice.