Orange Chicken Day
Also known as
National Orange Chicken Day
Orange Chix Day
annually on July 15th (since 2017)
National Orange Chicken Board on September 6th, 2016
Orange chicken, a Chinese-American dish beloved at Chinese restaurants in North America, particularly at Panda Express, where it is believed to have been invented, is celebrated today with Orange Chicken Day. Sometimes known as orange peel chicken, orange-flavored chicken, or tangerine chicken, orange chicken consists of chopped and battered chicken that's fried until it's light and crispy and then coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce that thickens and caramelizes like a glaze. The secret to the sweet and sour taste of the dish—at least when it comes to Panda Express—is a contrast of brown sugar, honey, and oil from orange peels with soy sauce and Chinese black vinegar.
Orange chicken is similar to some sweet and sour dishes in China and is often considered to be a Chinese food in America, but it is not regularly found in China. It may be viewed as a variation of another American-born dish, General Tso's chicken. Chef Andy Kao claims to have developed the recipe for orange chicken at a Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987, as a modification of a bone-in dish the restaurant served. While it's an American creation, it may have been inspired by a tangerine chicken dish from Hunan province, China, that translates to "dried citrus peel chicken." The Chinese dish diverges in preparation and taste from orange chicken, however, and is fresh and spicy instead of sweet and sour. Besides Panda Express, where it is the signature dish, orange chicken is regularly found in school cafeterias, at military bases, and in the frozen meal aisles in supermarkets. It is prepared, enjoyed, and celebrated today, on Orange Chicken Day!