Hunan chicken and orange chicken are excellent dishes, popular in restaurants as well as home kitchens. Although they are original dishes, my friends often mistake them for one another, mainly because of their similar appearances. This article is for my dear friends, but also for all of you who want to learn something more about these two dishes. So, what are the differences between Hunan chicken and orange chicken?
Hunan chicken is spicy and savory and is typically made with chicken, vegetables, and a spicy sauce. Orange chicken is a sweet and tangy dish made with crispy fried chicken, a sweet orange sauce, and often garnished with orange zest. Additionally, Hunan chicken is generally spicier than orange chicken and has a more complex flavor profile.
While you may think that it makes no difference which of these dishes you choose, it is crucial to know the differences between them to know which one to order or cook. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will explain the differences between these two dishes.
Despite sharing some similarities, there are significant differences between the two dishes. The two differ in a few categories: ingredients and preparation, appearance, taste, and nutrition. So, let’s see how they differ in each one of these.
Ingredients and Preparation
Hunan chicken is a spicy dish made with thinly sliced chicken breast, stir-fried with mostly bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, but it is up to the season and the cook which veggies they use. The sauce is the star of this dish, and it is made with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili paste.
Orange chicken, on the other hand, is a sweet and sour dish that is popular in American- Chinese cuisine. It is made with battered and deep-fried chicken coated with a tangy orange sauce.
The sauce is made of orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. The sauce is sweet, tangy, and has a bright orange color.
Another difference between the two dishes is the cooking method. Hunan chicken is a stir-fried dish cooked quickly to retain the crispiness of the vegetables and the tenderness of the chicken.
On the other hand, orange chicken is deep-fried before it is coated with orange sauce. The deep-frying process gives the chicken a crispy texture, which is different from the texture of the chicken in Hunan chicken.
Hunan chicken is typically an appetizer, but rice, eggrolls, and noodles commonly accompany it if you want to have it as a main dish. Moreover, the sauce can be pretty thick, making it perfect for soaking up the rice, and the dish is also very spicy, so it comes in handy to have something to balance out the intensity.
When it comes to orange chicken, the sides are typically steamed broccoli or rice. The sauce is, of course, orange, containing the sweetness of the oranges it is made out of.
Spiciness is one of the main differences between Hunan chicken and orange chicken. Hunan chicken is a very spicy dish, while orange chicken is a sweet and tangy dish that is not spicy at all.
Also, Hunan chicken does not contain even a hint of sweetness, while orange chicken does, since it contains oranges.
Furthermore, orange chicken is crunchier than Hunan chicken since it is made by deep-frying. Hunan chicken also has more moisture and is leaner. So, when ordering in, I usually order both of the dishes — half of my friends like spicy food, while the other half can’t handle spicy — this is probably why they thought the two were one and the same thing.
Hunan chicken is a protein-rich dish that is low in fat and calories. The vegetables in the dish add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the meal.
In terms of nutrition, Hunan chicken is generally considered to be healthier than orange chicken.
On the other hand, orange chicken is a deep-fried dish that is high in calories and fat. The sugar in the orange sauce also adds to the calorie count of the dish.
Which Is Better, Hunan Chicken or Orange Chicken:?
Hunan chicken and orange chicken are very popular dishes with their respective sets of fans. Since Hunan chicken is the spicier and hotter one, you need to be well-familiar with it to enjoy it. Hunan chicken isn’t for people who don’t like spicy flavors as it is pretty, very intense-flavored.
Orange chicken is the milder one, so if you like more toned-down flavors yet you still want a flavorful dish, this should be your choice. Still, trying both costs you nothing, that is, if you can handle the spiciness of Hunan chicken.