11.04.2009

Panda Express Orange Sauce Review


Do you enjoy waiting in line for your food?  How about the realistic odds that you'll contract swine flu from a poorly washed food tray?  Do you enjoy "sorta-authentic Asian food" that is cooked by non-Asians?  How about dropping 9 dollars for a 2-choice Chinese plate with drink?  Perhaps you really appreciate small tables while eating so that phone conversations by strangers and quaint body odor invade your lunch?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, the product I'm reviewing today is not for you.  Close the window and leave now.

If you're still here, you are like me.  You like Panda Express orange chicken, but don't care for the whole Panda Express "experience."

You know, I think I'm understating how much I like orange chicken.  I LOVE orange chicken.  We're talking bathe in the sauce-love.  If they had orange chicken sauce soap dispensers at Bath and Body Works, I'd be bankrupt.

I actually don't live near a Panda Express anymore.  I don't even remember liking orange chicken as much when I did live near Panda Express.  Perhaps absence makes the heart (and stomach) grow fonder.

While walking recently through Costco, I found the answer to the heathen prayers of my gut.  Panda Express makes an orange chicken sauce in the bottle.  Even better, it comes in the "are you freaking serious" size at Costco.

I wanted to wheel the entire pallet into my car for years of orange chickeny goodness, but the wife suggested we sample it before such a large commitment is made.

Unfortunately, there are no recipe ideas on the bottle.  You're flying blind here.  This led to my first test case of marinating some chicken in the sauce while cooking in the crock pot.  While fairly tasty, this concoction did not taste anything like the quasi-Asian fare I was expecting.  Obviously some breading was necessary.

On the next try, I took some raw chicken, and dipped it into raw egg, and then a flour/cornstarch/salt/pepper mixture.  Then I fried the chicken in some Vegetable oil.  You could probably fry in a wok/pan with any oil of your choosing.
In a separate pan, I warmed a decent amount of the orange sauce.  After the fried pieces of chicken were drained of grease, I dropped them in the warm sauce, stirred, and let sit for a couple minutes.
I patiently awaited the rice cooker's tell-tale beep of white fluffiness, and topped the rice with the orange chicken goodness.

To be honest, it is VERY close to the orange chicken you'd get at Panda Express.  The sauce has a pretty "vinegary" smell/taste, and does have some spicy pop.

For those that don't want to mess with cooking crap, I suppose you could throw some chicken nuggets in the oven, and roll them in some sauce.  I may just try this to save time/dirty dishes next time.

Overall, the 5 dollars or so I spent will yield about 4 full meals for my family.  It would probably yield 8 meals for someone who is less gluttonous than me.  Supposedly there are other sauces sold by Panda express, but really---does anyone care for anything but the orange chicken?
I give the Panda Express orange chicken sauce 4 tangy stars out of 5.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you thank you thank you!! I recently was excited to find the orange chicken sauce at costco, but didn't know where to turn for any recipes. Then proceeded to debate with my husband if chicken nuggets would actually work! Thanks for your post

Matt said...

And if it's not good on chicken nuggets, use it as a topping for hot dogs.

Ellen said...

Hi, I was looking for ideas for the sauce and found your blog. I made some Orange Chicken from Family Feasts that was really good, so I'm going to try that recipe but with this bottled sauce. You can find it here if you'd like: http://www.owlhaven.net/2009/04/23/panda-style-orange-chicken/

It came out good but was just a bit TOO orangey (is that a word?) for me. I was going to try it again when I saw the sauce at Costco and my daughter, who loves Panda's orange chicken, talked me into trying it.

Anonymous said...

http://www.pandaexpress.com/wokking/recipes/OSBake.aspx

Matt said...

Ellen---this sauce is good. I'm trying to develop a smoothy recipe from it.

Anon--That recipe is ok....but it's just buying breaded chicken pieces and using the sauce. I prefer a nice lean chicken breast that I prepare myself. I also like breasts in general. I think I've shared too much.

William said...

Try the Orange sauce mixed with 1/3 pancake syrup. It sweetens it up and tones it down a bit.

Boulder Bob said...

You didn't mention the Costco price was $4.89 compared to Amazon.com price of $16.00 plus shipping

Matt said...

@William--My kids think it's too spicy...I'll give it a try. Maple or butter flavored?

@Boulder Bob--16 bucks??! I suppose the bright side is that you don't pay taxes at Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Ok last night I was looking for the recipe web site that was on the bottle and it isn't there. So I used flour and panko breading, mixed them together with salt pepper and ginger. I cut the chicken up into little pieces and dipped them in egg and milk mixture then into the breading mix. I fried em up and poured the orange sauce on top. Yumm Yumm it was the first time I have ever had orange chicken!

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