Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

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I don’t know how many years we’ve been doing this, but it’s been long enough that it’s become a tradition. Every night after I complete my Army Physical Fitness Test, Scott and I have celebrated by opening a bottle of wine and bringing in orange chicken and a number of other delicious goodies from Panda Express.

Some people go to fancy restaurants to celebrate things. I order orange chicken.

I’m trying to back away from ordering out and bringing in as much these days, but I can still work on infusing that orange flavor into my own cooking. Like my current favorite combo – an orange chicken salad with mandarin oranges and cashews with a homemade sesame tahini dressing that is just to die for.

I figured out how to make my own orange chicken a while back, and I’ve tweaked it so that you still get that delicious tangy flavor without a huge amount of breading. I like a little bit of breading, but simpler is better.

After making these for a while, I thought they would be really tasty with some added mandarin oranges and cashews and some other interesting flavors. That was when this salad was born.

And let me tell you, friends, it’s a little bit of fantastic.

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad with Cashews and Sesame Tahini Dressing

Serves 2.

What You’ll Need:

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 cup searing flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 3 cups marinade

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

For the salad:

  • 2 cups orange chicken
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews
  • sesame tahini dressing

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

How to make it:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, mirin sauce, soy sauce, and white pepper until the sugar is dissolved. Put the chicken chunks in a gallon Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Shake to ensure the chicken is covered, and let sit for 30 minutes.

Note: if you just want to make straight up orange chicken, reserve 1/3 of the marinade and heat it up in a sauce pan with 2 tbsp cornstarch until it thickens into a nice sauce. Make the chicken according to the rest of the directions here, toss it in the sauce, and serve over rice. Yummy!

2. While the chicken is marinating, let’s make the dressing. Blend together the tahini paste, water, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic, and ground ginger in a blender until it’s nice and smooth. Pour into a dressing container, seal, and let thicken in the fridge until ready to use. This dressing will keep about a week if refrigerated.

3. Pour the vegetable oil into a large pan and heat over high heat. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, pour the searing flour in another small bowl, and get ready to dip, dredge, and fry.

4. Working in small batches, dip the chicken chunks into the eggs, dredge through the searing flour until nicely coated, and fry in the heated vegetable oil until the batter is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Set aside on sheets of wax paper or parchment paper to drain and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

5. When all the chicken is cooked and cooling, divide the greens, mandarin orange slices, red onion, and cashews between two plates. Add a cup of orange chicken {or whatever your preference for serving} to each plate {you will have plenty of extra, too}. Drizzle each plate with sesame tahini dressing.

6. Serve and enjoy!

What’s your favorite celebration food?

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