Yes you can make delicious Chinese Szechuan chicken at home. The good news is that it’s easy.
For a long time I tended to shy away from making Chinese food at home. Anything more than a stir fry looked like it might be too difficult and intimidating.
It turns out I was completely wrong. I’m so glad I found out how easy it is to make most of our favorite Chinese recipes right in our own kitchen.
This Szechuan chicken recipe is a perfect example.
Szechuan Chicken Ingredients
Szechuan Chicken is an orange chicken recipe. The orange flavor comes from a combination of freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest, the outside orange layer of the skin.
I love this recipe because it uses fresh everything. Fresh ginger instead of powdered, fresh orange juice and orange zest instead of orange flavoring, fresh peppers and fresh garlic. Yum.
These ingredients come together to make a naturally delicious sauce for the chicken that is easy to put together but oh so delicious.
The original recipe I was given calls for sherry. I left it in the recipe in case you want to use it but I personally leave it out. I don’t substitute anything. I just leave it out. You can replace it with a bit of chicken broth or more orange juice if you think you need the liquid.
One of the major players in this orange chicken recipe is, of course, the orange. This recipe calls for fresh orange ingredients – freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly grated orange zest.
Just in case you are newer to cooking, here is how to zest an orange:
Zesting the Orange
When you are using fresh oranges in a recipe like this one and it calls for both the orange peel and the juice, always cut the peel or zest from the orange first. If you cut the peel first, juicing it is still easy. If you squeeze the juice out first, getting that outer layer of skin is much more difficult.
The thin outer layer of the orange is quite easy to remove using a vegetable peeler. Just make sure you don’t remove the white of the orange rind in the process. The white is quite bitter and will add a bitter taste (and an unattractive look) to your Szechuan Chicken.
Although this recipe originally said to use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin, it’s also just as easy to use a grater and that’s what I prefer, so that’s how I wrote the recipe (the vegetable peeler variation is below the recipe). A grater on the fine side will produce perfect zest. It really doesn’t matter if you have fine long pieces or short shreds. Whatever is easiest for you and works best is fine.
Here is what your orange skin should look like when it is zested. If you have shorter shreds or a little pile of orange, that’s fine too.
Is Szechuan Chicken Gluten-Free?
This Chinese chicken recipe doesn’t use wheat flour to coat the chicken pieces or thicken the sauce. Like many Chinese recipes, cornstarch is used for the sauce. Cornstarch is gluten-free and fine to use on a gluten-free diet. That’s why Asian recipes are often great for gluten-free eaters. They don’t often use wheat anyway.
That said, people who have celiac disease have to be ultra careful about not consuming gluten. There shouldn’t be gluten in the chili paste, but definitely check the ingredients label if you need to be absolutely gluten free.
Otherwise this wonderful Szechuan chicken recipe is good to go for all of us who need to eat gluten free. That’s one of the reasons I love this Asian chicken recipe.
Let me know how you like it. You can use the comment form below the recipe to add your own comments and variations.
Orange Szechuan Chicken
- 1 wok or skillet
- 4 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
- 1 sweet green pepper
- 1 sweet red pepper
- 1 orange, 2 if small
- 1 teaspoon chili paste, or more or less to your taste
- 2 tablespoons sherry
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish, optional
- Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch squares and set them aside.
- Halve the green and red peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. Cut the peppers into 1 inch squares.
- Using a grater, remove the zest from the orange (no white - see notes above). Set it aside.
- Squeeze the orange and reserve 1/4 cup of the juice. In a small bowl, combine the reserved orange juice, chili paste, sherry, sugar and cornstarch. Stir until the mixture is smooth.
- In a wok or saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and stir fry for 2 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
- Add the orange rind, ginger and garlic to the wok and stir fry it all for a short time, just about 10 seconds. Add the peppers and stir fry for 1 minute more. Add the chili paste mixture and bring it all to a boil. Return the chicken to the wok and stir it all together until it is heated through.
- Add in the sesame seeds and stir to mix them in before serving if you are using them.
- Makes 4 servings.
This isn't really a variation but another way to add the orange rind to the dish. Instead of grating the orange rind into zest you can also use a vegetable peeler to cut thin strips of rind from the orange skin. Do not cut into the white, just use the orange part of the rind. Once you have strips of the orange rind cut, slice the strips into thin julienne strips about 1 1/2 inches long.
Subscribe to the site (it’s Free!) and never miss a great recipe. I promise you’ll only get recipes from me and I don’t email you every day. (Not even close.)
If you like this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you share it on social media and add a comment below. Thanks.