In a video with Tasty, director of product development Jimmy Wang shares the ins and outs of how Panda Express employees makes its famous orange chicken every day (via YouTube). The dish begins with 1-inch pieces of chicken thighs that are coated with “just the right amount” of batter. Salt, white pepper, cornstarch, and flour make up the dry ingredients in the simple coating, and they’re whisked together with oil, egg, and water until smooth. The chicken chills in the batter for 30 minutes and is then deep-fried in small batches for six minutes until golden.
The beloved orange sauce is made in a hot wok of sautéed fresh ginger, garlic, and chili flakes. Once these ingredients are fragrant, cooks add white and brown sugar, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and a cornstarch slurry, allowing the mixture to simmer and reduce until it reaches a maple syrup consistency. Finally, the chicken is tossed in the tangy sauce — along with a tablespoon of sesame oil for shine and nuttiness — until thoroughly coated and ready to be enjoyed.