Okay, so I told you guys on Monday that I was defying my actual season so I could share some summery sweets.
Well, now I think it’s only fair for you guys to return the favor and imagine it’s cold out so you can imbrace some Winter produce, I’m talking to those of you that live up north. I’m grateful though, to know there are actually some of you down in my own hemisphere too (HELLO you Aussies, New Zealanders, South Africans, and even cuddly baby polar bears of the Antarctic!)
I’m also guessing that it’s going to be a lot easier for you guys in the Northern Hemisphere to get pomegranates out of season than it is for me to get summer fruits out of season where I live. In fact, it’s not unlikely that you’d be buying them from the same place that I am because Chile is one of the biggest fruit exporters in the world. Really, you should check some of your fruit sticker labels next time you go shopping and you probably see quite a few of them from Chile. Basically, Chile is to fruits what China is to everything else you buy. Doesn’t that make you feel like it’s a small world after all when you realize we could be eating pomegranates from the same tree? I’m just saying, you can probably get year-round pomegranates if you’re shopping at a market that imports their stuffs.
Oh and can I just take a brief second to talk about pomegranates? I feel like they are pretty seriously under-appreciated where fruits are concerned. Most people don’t even know how to eat them. Actually, you know what? I feel like I could say this about so many other fruits too. When did the general population become so unimaginative with the produce section? There’s more to life than apples and bananas people. I genuinely love just eating the arils as they are but even if that’s not your thing I still think the juice is as good, if not better, than any citrus or berry juice.
So this chicken, it’s really not that different than your typical Chinese orange chicken when you think about it. I feel like this is what would happen if General Tso had a pomegranate farmer for a neighbor and started getting Winter cabin fever. The tartness of the pomegranates give this sauce a sort of berry flavor so it’s perfect for summer, but because pomegranates are a Autumn/Winter thing this is also great for weeknights during the cold seasons. See, it’s a win win situation for everybody!
The sauce is made with both fresh pomegranate juice and a product that you should be able to find in your local grocery store wherever they have the exotic ingredients; pomegranate molasses. It’s a Middle Eastern thing and I’m totally hooked on it now! If you can’t find it there I’d check the closest natural food market for it. On the pom juice, I juiced fresh pomegranates in my blender and strained the juice, but since that is a little time consuming you could just buy pomegrante juice to keep things simple. Oh, and you can’t forget about the sides either. I served this with a really simple fried rice with lots of veggies to try to balance the fact that (let’s be honest) the entree is pretty much a doughnut version of chicken. You could also throw some steamed broccoli or other veggies on your plates for some color if you want.
Okay, and just one more thing, I have to answer the question that my brothers (and pretty much every guy I know) always need answered about their food: can you add bacon? You see, right before my fam moved here from the States, Panda Express started making their orange chicken with (wait for it……..) bacon! I’m pretty sure they don’t do it anymore but it was insane and since I was making on Chase’s birthday I had to do it. So what I’m saying is that if you’re wondering whether or not to add some bacon the answer is most definitely YES!
Other than that I can only say that you need to give this cousin version to your favorite Chinese food item a shot!
- Chicken Slurry:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast chicken
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- Sesame Pomegranate Sauce:
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (plus more for topping)
- 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup soy sauce (gluten free if necessary)
- 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste (or more to heat preference)
- about 2 quarts peanut or sunflower oil for frying
- pomegranate arils for serving (optional)
- 4 cups cooked brown rice (or white)
- 3 cups stir-fry vegetables of choice
- 1/4 cup peanut or sunflower oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- sea salt to taste
- Combine cornstarch and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add chicken and stir to coat. Place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours or just while you make the sauce.
- Whisk cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and set aside. Saute garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds with sesame oil in a saucepan or wok over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until browned. Add remaining ingredients from stock to chili garlic paste and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Continue boiling until the sauce is just starting to thicken a little, about 10 minutes. Pour in water/cornstarch while stirring and stir until thick. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- Heat a deep fryer filled with recommended amount of oil (alternatively you can use at least 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven or wok instead) to 350 degrees F (180 C). Remove chicken slurry from fridge and drop a few pieces at a time into hot oil. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Continue until all chicken is cooked.
- Toss chicken in warm sauce and serve immediately topped with pomegranate arils and extra sesame seeds along with the rice.
- Add 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, and vegetables to large skillet or wok and cook until veggies are starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add broth and continue stirring until most of the liquid is evaporated. Make a space in the center of the pan and pour in 1 tablespoon more oil and crack in eggs. Quickly scramble and break into small pieces as it cooks then stir into veggies. Now add soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice and toss to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to darken and gets hot. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt then serve with chicken.