|Place of origin||Mainland China (original version)|
United States (American Chinese version)
|Region or state||Hunan (original version)|
North America (American Chinese version)
|Main ingredients||Chicken, orange sauce or orange peels|
The variety of orange chicken most commonly found at North American Chinese restaurants consists of chopped, battered and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce, which thickens or caramelizes to a glaze. While the dish is very popular in the United States, it is most often found as a variation of General Tso's chicken in North America rather than the dish found in mainland China. Chef Andy Kao claims to have developed the original Chinese-American orange chicken recipe at a Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987. Since Panda Express is closely associated with this dish, Panda Express uses orange chicken as a promotion tool by having a dedicated food truck tour the country distributing samples of orange chicken.
Orange chicken is called Chinese food in North America, but orange chicken is rarely found in Chinese restaurants in China. Andrew Cherng, owner and founder of Panda Express, said that orange chicken is just a variation of General Tso's chicken, another dish that is almost unknown in China. Journalist Jennifer 8. Lee says that both "General Tso's chicken and Orange Chicken are Americanized mutations of sweet and sour dishes found in China." Orange chicken has also entered the menus of the mainstream U.S. by being served in school cafeterias, and in military bases' chow halls, and also found in the supermarket frozen meal aisle.
Jimmy Wang says orange chicken is one of the most creative dishes in the past thirty years.  In most countries in the western hemisphere, the names "orange chicken", "orange peel chicken", "orange-flavored chicken", and "tangerine chicken" are typically used for this particular dish. This dish originally came from "tangerine chicken" cooked in Hunan province, China. In Chinese, this dish is known as "陳皮雞", literally "dried citrus peel chicken", referring to dried orange or tangerine peel. However, the taste and recipes of this dish are completely different due to cultural and geographical factors. Delish news mentions the sauce of this dish, "The recipe includes brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and crushed chili to give it a little bit of a kick, without making it spicy".  For restaurants outside of Asia, referring to American Chinese restaurant, fresh orange peel is often used instead, or even no peel at all. The use of tangerine chicken was changed to the use of fresh orange peel." Tangerine chicken" was used in tangerine, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as cooking. Tangerine chicken tastes fresh and spicy, but orange chicken tastes sweet and sour. Orange chicken is crispy cooked in a sweet and little spicy orange sauce. The sweetness of orange chicken was introduced to cater to American tastes.
Orange chicken is the signature dish of the American fast food chain Panda Express, which sells over 100 million pounds of it every year. In the TV series The Big Bang Theory, the character Sheldon's favorite Chinese food is orange chicken.
Similar Chinese chicken dishes:
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- Krystal, Becky (September 18, 2015). "Is orange chicken a guilty pleasure, or just plain guilty?". Washington Post.
- Harris, Jenn (August 15, 2015). "There's a Panda Express food truck. And it's full of free orange chicken and waffles". Los Angeles Times.
- Whaley, Monte (October 23, 2017). "Orange chicken in the school lunch line? You bet, in Brighton". Denver Post.
- "28 Day Cyclic Menu". Quartermaster School Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. July 2011.
- "Orange Chicken". Lean Cuisine.
- "Sweet & Spicy Orange Zest Chicken". Healthy Choice.
- "Orange Chicken, Panda Express' Gift To American Chinese Food, Turns 30". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
- Flager, Madison (2017-11-02). "This Is The Secret To Panda Express' Famous Orange Chicken". Delish. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
- "The Original Orange Chicken® | Entrees | Panda Express Chinese Restaurant". www.pandaexpress.com. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
- "据说中餐在美国很流行，美国人吃的到底都是啥？". www.sohu.com. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
- Vawter, Eve (29 August 2019). "What Really Makes Panda Express' Orange Chicken So Delicious". Mashed.com.
- Pasden, John (2010-04-14). "The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon's Chinese". Sinosplice. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
- Media related to Orange chicken at Wikimedia Commons