Friday, June 7, 2013

Gooey, Yummy Orange Sauce (the way Chinese food is supposed to be sauced)

I love Chinese food. So much. But since being exiled to to the Pacific Northwest, I have found that there aren't any crazy good places to get Chinese food out here. So I started googling and Pinterest-ing (is that a verb yet?) and have tried scads of stir fry and other supposed "takeout fakeout" recipes. Nothing has come close to even touching my Chinese food want. The sauces are too runny and thin or they have a blah flavor or they call for way too much spice (probably to mask the fact that there is no real flavor in there in the first place.)

Well I have a huge announcement because I have found a sauce that makes me jump up in down in happy circles (or maybe hum to my food while I eat it and chair dance.) And it was toddler approved, which is a big deal in this house these days.

What I like about this recipe is that it is for a sauce. It is super quick and easy and I can throw in there anything I want. This time it was with a bag of frozen veggie stir fry plus some extra peas for B and whatever veggies I had in the fridge that needed eating (or tossing soon!) I was due for some seafood so I cooked up some shrimp for in there too (easily swapped with chicken, beef or tofu.) Then I threw it all over some brown rice. Done. Dinner in 20 minutes or less. My kind of cooking.

So the origin of this recipe was an article on Yahoo Voice by Natalie Ivette. I made some changes to clean it up and it was awesome. It got thick and yummy and made everything kind of goo together in the best possible way. For the juices, I squeezed my own. There wasn't a ton of juice called for an it only took a few minutes. The recipe called for brown sugar and I subbed honey.  I also used the soy sauce. I have read conflicting things about soy sauce. Some say it's not clean. Some say it is okay in small amounts. Again I use it probably less than once a week so I'm not going to sweat it. If it was something I used all the time, I would be more concerned. I did read the labels and try to find one without scary ingredients. (The one I found had six ingredients and they were all things I could recognize - like soybeans and vinegar.) I have also read conflicting views on cornstarch. Again, I barely use it so I wasn't worried (and that was what I had in my pantry.) In the future, I will probably switch to arrowroot as a thickening agent.

Orange Sauce for Chinese Stir-fry 

- 2/3 cup orange juice (I squeezed some oranges)

- 1 teaspoon lime juice (again from a lime not a bottle)

- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

- 1 teaspoon honey

- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

- 3/4 teaspoon grated ginger

- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

- 2 tablespoons water


1) In a small bowl, combine orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar and honey. In another, combine cornstarch and water - stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.
2) In a skillet, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat. When really hot, sautee garlic and ginger for 1 to 2 minutes- do not let stick. (I might have skipped this step and it all turned out fine.)
3) Give orange juice mixture a stir and pour it into skillet. Bring to a boil for a minute or so.
4) Reduce heat to low and add dissolved cornstarch, while stirring. (You want to be sure to stir constantly, until completely combined, or the cornstarch could clump while adding to hot liquid!)
5) Turn the heat back up to medium and stir continuously until sauce thickens considerably. It should thickly coat the back of the spoon. 
At this point I set the sauce aside and cooked my veggies, shrimp and rice. I wanted the sauce to get extra thick (I was paranoid it wouldn't thicken as I haven't had much luck in the past.)

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