Orange chicken is a classic American-Chinese comfort food. This recipe will show you how to make that same delicious orange glaze over a vegan protein.
Gather your ingredients!
Note that the tofu you use for this recipe should be frozen. This will change the texture of the tofu such that it absorbs the orange sauce more effectively.
Prepare a bowl of white rice to serve alongside this dish by combining one part rice with one part water, and simmering until the rice has absorbed the water. Set aside and keep warm.
Thaw the tofu in a container that will allow water to drain out of the block. You want to remove as much water as possible from the tofu, which will allow for a crispier, more porous bake.
I’ve used a strainer and a tea towel, but anything absorbent will do.
Chop the tofu into bites conveniently sized for chopsticks.
Pat and press the tofu with a tea towel or paper towels to release as much water as possible.
Move the tofu to a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt.
Sprinkle on a tablespoon of soy sauce. Try to add it in dispersed droplets. If you add it all in one spot, you may find that a single bite of tofu will absorb all the sauce!
To create the crispy surface of the baked tofu, first, add about a tablespoon of oil and toss the thawed pieces with your hand. Dust corn starch onto the tofu. Add the starch one tablespoon at a time, while mixing with your hand. The corn starch, once wet, will blend in with the tofu pieces and give them a slight sheen. Keep adding corn starch until the surfaces can’t hold any more. You’ll know it’s done when, after mixing, the white powdery spots don’t disappear. To get rid of these spots, which will taste bitter if not blended, rub two blocks of tofu together. Overall, you’ll add about about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.
Bake the tofu at 375°F for 20-30 minutes. You’ll know it’s baked when the surfaces take on a browned appearance, and if you tap the tofu with a fork, it is a bit crisp.
While the tofu is baking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. First, create two teaspoons of orange zest by zesting either oranges or nectarines.
Whisk together the ingredients for the orange sauce. That’s the zest, 1 tablespoon of corn starch, 1 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup of agave nectar or other sweetener, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
Chop about 3 stalks of cilantro, 1 1/2 cups of green beans, 1 red bell pepper, and 1 cup of scallions.
Mince a 1-inch piece of ginger root into tiny flecks.
Heat two tablespoons of sesame oil in a pan on medium heat. You’ll know the oil is ready to sauté when, if you add a bit of vegetable to it, bubbles appear around the vegetable.
Note that sesame oil burns at a lower temperature than other cooking oils, so you’ll not want to cook on high heat. Sesame flavor is a great complement to Chinese food, so we’ll use it anyway!
Add the cup of scallions, minced ginger, and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant.
Add the red pepper and cook for about 2 minutes, until slightly softened.
Add the orange sauce and the baked tofu.
Turn the stove heat to high and cook the mixture, stirring frequently. You want the sauce to bubble with evaporating water, causing the sauce to become thick and sticky. This reduction takes about ten minutes.
Add the chopped green beans last, and cook them for less than a minute. This will allow them to retain their crispness and fresh flavor.
Garnish with a bit of cilantro and sesame seeds, and serve with a side of white rice. Enjoy!