Szechuan Crispy Orange Beef

WARNING!  Do not attempt this recipe unless you have a kitchen slave. LOL. This disclaimer comes from my wonderful husband who shares kitchen duties with me. I cook and he comes behind me cleaning my messes from the stove, the counters, and washes the collection of utensils, bowls, and anything else that I can use to create the recipes that come your way. He calls me the mess maker and calls himself the kitchen slave. He advises everyone that this recipe can create a mess but it is a wonderfully crispy, savory dish. Is it worth it…he said it is delicious but he is still thinking about the mess.

He makes my life easy as I create a recipe. Not only is he my taster, critique of sauces in the making…he is my sounding board. Of course, this is probably the hardest job in the world. He refuses to give advise because if something goes wrong with the recipe…I may tend to say it was his fault. Does this scenario sound familiar?

Szechuan Crispy Orange Beef

Now to the recipe. Szechuan Crispy Orange Beef is an Americanized recipe that is said to have originated in New York City. You will probably find this dish on most restaurant menus. Orange Beef is a favorite of my husband’s when we go to a small Chinese restaurant fifteen minutes from our house. I decided that I would recreate this dish for him. The result is absolutely delicious. If you have a deep fryer, you will probably not have the mess created by using a frying pan. If you do not have a deep fryer, I would suggest using a deep pot and splatter screen to contain any splatters.

Szechuan Crispy Orange Beef

  • 1 lb. thinly sliced beef (I used sirloin tip with lots of marbling for taste and tenderness,   sliced about a 1/4 to less than a 1/2 inch thick)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • peel from one orange (bitter pith removed), dried in a 120 degree F oven for one hour
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp.  mirin or soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. hoisin
  • 2 tsp. hot chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 to 6 Thai bird chilies (optional)
  • 1/3 c. white wine
  • Peanut oil for frying

Cut the beef into strips about 1 by 3 inches and season with salt and pepper. Place in a bowl and toss with the cornstarch. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.

Combine orange juice, mirin, hoisin, chili sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, ginger and garlic in a sauté pan and simmer until slightly thickened. Add the dried orange peel and stir until coated. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat peanut oil until hot.

Add the beaten egg whites to the cornstarch coated beef and mix until completely coated. Carefully add the beef (do in batches so that the meat fries and doesn’t steam) to the oil  and cook for one minute. Remove and drain on paper towel. Return the beef to the hot oil and fry for an additional minute. (This second frying is what insures  crispy beef.)  Remove, drain on paper towel.

Pour out all but 1 or 2 Tbsp. of oil. (If you have used a deep fryer, you will remove the beef and use a sauté pan to finish the dish with 1 – 2 Tbsp. of oil). Add the garlic and chilies (if using) and cook until soft. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Add the reserved sauce and beef. Stir until the meat is totally coated in the sauce.

I served this spicy dish with sesame garlic broccoli and scallion rice. The broccoli gave a nice crunch and color to the meal. You can’t have Chinese food without rice. I added a little scallion and sesame oil to the rice for added flavor.

Please do not be afraid to try this recipe. Just know that there may be a little additional cleanup in the kitchen. I think the result was great. The crispy beef strips are combined with a sticky sweet and spicy sauce . The pungent flavor from the orange peel gives a great taste to this dish as well as filling your kitchen with wonderful aromas.

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133 thoughts on “Szechuan Crispy Orange Beef

  1. Karen, this looks and sounds fabulous! I’ve been experimenting more with Asian cooking lately, and I’m SUCH a fan of their cooking style. I also love the idea of reproducing their dishes without any chemicals etc that are used in mass cooking for buffets etc.

    I’m definitely going to be saving this recipe and giving it a try…

    1. Hi Tami, Thank you for stopping by and your very nice compliment. I hope you will enjoy the recipe for the sweet and spicy beef dish.

    1. Thank you Wendy, for your nice compliment. It really was delicious. The meat was more tender than what I have had in the restaurant and the orange flavor was perfect.

  2. I absolutely adore this dish (although I don´t think I´ve had it with orange in it which sounds fantastic). Would never have thought of making this at home though but as soon as I can get hold of some beef here (bizarrely difficult) I shall give this a go. Although my dad is Italian, he managed a very lovely Chinese Restaurant in the centre of London for quite a few years and I used to lurk around the kitchen…the chef used to part freeze the beef before slicing it so that he could get it nice and thin. Quite handy if you´re not so confident with the slicing!

    1. Hi Tanya, Thank you so much for your comment. Oh how fun to lurk around in a restaurant kitchen. Thanks for the suggestion for partly freezing the meat. I was lucky that I was able to get it already thinly sliced but your suggestion is perfect if you need to do it yourself. I hope that you will enjoy the dish. I think it would be good with pork as well.

  3. This sounds delicious, Karen, though those Thai bird chili will definitely be omitted. Way too spicy for me. And you’re right to recognize the need for slaves in the kitchen. ((laughter))

    1. Thank you John. The Thai bird chili are very hot. I never eat them…just cook with them and push them aside on the plate. I am at my creative best when I have my kitchen slave by my side. (lots of laughter too)

    1. Hi Bonnie, Kitchen slaves are lovely to have around…especially when you are one handed at the moment. When you are mended, I hope you give it a try.

  4. That scenario sounds exactly like our kitchen. My husband is so good about cleaning up, test tasting, plus he has to proof my blogs posts before they are published. I’d have to hire someone if he ever left me. 🙂 I’d love to try this dish. I do order Orange Beef from Pei Wei but have never tried making it. I’m pinning it so I don’t forget about it.

    1. Hi Lea Ann, Happy to hear that your kitchen is run like ours. I would be lost without my husband’s help as well…we are very lucky. Thank you for the pin and I hope you will enjoy the meal.

  5. i think that no matter how the recipe turned out, u are already a winner, as you have a cleaner upper person walking behind you, which is also your soul mate. thanks for sharing

    1. Hi Terry, Yes I am lucky to have a cleaner upper person walking behind me. You are right…he is my soul mate. Thank you for your nice comment.

  6. This looks fantastic! Crispy beef is a favourite dish of mine so I will have to try this one as soon as I can find a kitchen slave.

    1. Hi Peggy, Kitchen slaves are in short supply…I hope you have luck in finding one. Thank you for your comment and enjoy the dish.

  7. I’m the kitchen slave … *smile … that’s why I like simple dishes when being the “lonely diner” – so I have to stand this one over or maybe you can send your husband over *smile
    We had something very likeness on the menu for our business class, one of the chefs created the dish. We served it on a cold salad base. Became very popular. Our recipe was a lot easier. Have to dig it out from the disc. Looks good and reads good.

    1. Hi Viveka, It is hard when you are cook and slave at the same time…then simple is definitely the way to go. I’m sure the dish your chef prepared was great…sounds good on a cold salad base.

  8. Funny the arrangement between your husband and yourself…sounds like my house!! Delicious dish and of course we love ordering that dish at the local chinese resturant too! Maybe I will try to make it someday as you have made it seem very do-able! thanks!

    1. Hi Carol, The recipe is very doable. It is fun cooking when you have someone there with you. Happy to hear that is how the two of you prepare meals as well.

  9. I would be very happy to make a mess of the kitchen for this divine meal. For the most part, everything can go into the dishwasher so we are already half way done with the cleaning. 😀 In our home, its either me or Pete in the kitchen – never together. Quite sad really but not a problem.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. Hi Mandy, Thank you for your lovely compliment. I keep telling my husband that “the dishwasher is our friend” but he loves helping. There are times when he cooks and then he tells me to stay out of the kitchen…he likes to surprise me. Nice that Pete likes to cook as well.

  10. Since I’ve stopped eating so much meat, I am usually turned off by pics of meat dishes, but this looks beautiful. And I hear you about the kitchen slave. 4 hands definitely make a difference!

  11. I’m not afraid of a little mess.. with my son back at home our kitchen stove is often a greasy splattered mess left for me to clean up;) This looks excellent.. one of my favorite dishes and it’s great I don’t have to have a fryer for it! Say thanks to your hubby from me!!

    1. Hi Smidge, If you are not afraid of a little mess from splattering, then you will really enjoy this dish. I’ll tell my husband you said thanks.

  12. We enjoy Chinese food, and I find it always tastes best when made at home! I know my husband would love this too, crispy beef is one of his favorites! I’ll definitely give this a try. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

    When you have a moment, please stop by and visit my post about the “Wedding Cake House” in Kennebunk, Maine!

    Have a wonderful weekend!


    1. Hi Mary, I think crispy beef must be a favorite of most men when eating at a Chinese restaurant. I agree that Chinese food is usually better prepared at home…you get it just the way you like it. I hope you will enjoy the recipe.

  13. What a happy coincidence – I too have a kitchen slave, though we’re not currently living together. When we move back in together later this year I’ll do this dish :D. I think it sounds wonderful, Karen.

    1. Hi Frugal, Thank you very much for your nice compliment. It sounds like you have a traveling kitchen slave…I know you must miss her.

  14. Tee hee. A kitchen slave. I like that. I’m sure Mike tends to feel that way sometimes too. This looks quiet flavorful with a good amount of kick! Delicious!

    1. Hi Kristy, I’m laughing thinking about the photo of your kitchen sink during your challenge. Whoever did all those pots had to feel like the kitchen slave that day. I’m glad you like the recipe and yes it is spicy but the chilies are optional. If you do use them…just don’t eat the chilies.

  15. I can tell by reading this my husband and son will love it… I I’ll have to see if I can find some Thai bird chilis around my remote area.. any ideas for subs? Thanks for the recipe and read!

    1. Hi Lee Ann, Thank you for your nice comment. Any hot chili would work (Serrano perhaps) or you could use red chili flakes or even cayenne. I leave the chilies whole and don’t eat them as Thai bird are very hot.

    1. Hi Karista, I’m happy to know that you love the recipe. My husband always rescues me when I have a disaster area. Nice to know I’m not the only one that has this occur from time to time.

  16. Shhh! Don’t TELL THEM they are kitchen slaves, that’s a secret. They are a vital part of the meal as your sous chef. 😉 Ha! Just kidding. So great that your hubby is so willing to help, it really does make a difference not having to do it all. Our kids are wonderful to do the dishes when dinner is done. When they are no longer here, the job with go to the next willing participant: hubby. 🙂
    Love this recipe, Karen, the Thai chilis are killer-hot, so we wouldn’t need many, but I love the flavors here and the chilis do add to it. This is a must-try!

    1. Thank you Judy, for the very nice compliment and the chuckle. It really is wonderful having help in the kitchen. Thai chilies are extremely hot…I use them whole for flavor and spiciness but don’t eat them. I made the mistake of swallowing a whole one by mistake in a restaurant one night…it was incredibly hot. I hope that you enjoy the dish.

      1. That is for sure. I enjoy the heat and flavor the whole chilies give to a dish but I’m always sure that they are put on the side of my dish.

  17. Oh, this looks so good! The combination of the beef with orange is very appealing. I certainly agree, we home cooks really need a kitchen slave! I don’t see how we can be expected to clean up after expending all that creative energy perfecting recipes and messing up every surface in the kitchen. Actually, I’m very fortunate in that department. The Culinary Enthusiast not only cheers me on every step of the way, but insists on cleaning up. A match made in culinary heaven!

    1. Hi Marlene, Aren’t we lucky to have husbands that love to help and be so understanding. After all, measuring and tasting over and over does take lots of time and equipment. It does sound like The Culinary Enthusiast and yourself is a match made in culinary heaven.

    1. Hi Claire, Thank you so much for your compliment. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it as spicy as you like or not use the Thai chilies at all.

    1. Hi Chunklet, Happy to help with suggestions on how to make preparing meals easier…and boy a kitchen slave really gets you out of the kitchen in a hurry.

    1. Hi Mary, A Thai bird chili is a very hot, small red chili. I don’t eat them…just cook them in the dish for flavor and spice and then set to the side on the plate. Any chili that you like will be good in this dish…even red pepper flakes will work. I hope you will enjoy the recipe.

  18. This is my husband’s fav too. I haven’t tried making it at home yet. How strong is the orange flavour? The hubby likes strong orange flavour. I guess the orange peel helps bring that out. Definitely going to give this a try. Unfortunately I play the role of cleaning up after the hubby as he cooks, heh. Although he would help with the clean up process after eating.

    1. Hi T.W., I think all men must love crispy orange beef. This recipe definitely has a strong orange flavor and I think you husband would enjoy preparing this dish.

    1. Hi Claire, Thank you for your nice compliment. I think my wonderful kitchen slave doesn’t complain about cleaning my messes because of the meals he gets to eat. Yes sometimes dishes do tend to take over the kitchen.

  19. Hi Karen, this reminds me of a dish served in English Chinese restaurants, called crispy chilli beef – my absolute favourite “Chinese” dish ever. Thin strips of crispy beef covered in a chilli sauce, without the orange. With the orange as well I’m sure it must be absolutely delicious. I still haven’t been able to master making the beef crispy enough… Must practise more 😀

    1. Hi Charles, It does sound like a similar dish. The secret to getting the beef crispy is the second frying. It just doesn’t get crispy with one frying because of the moisture in the meat. It is like frying potatoes twice to get crispy fries. I think you would enjoy the dish Charles.

  20. Oh wow, you must be an angel to have such a wonderful husband, just tonight after a wildly busy day i said to john could you do some of these dishes (I had just made the dinner for everyone) while i go out and finish the animals and he said hmm mm and then went out and mowed the ditch! WAAA! Ah well . I love deep fried food and this recipe looks like me! c

    1. Hi Celi, I do have a wonderful husband…he is always asking if I need help when I’m in the kitchen. When I’m measuring, writing a recipe and cooking, he knows that with two of us…we can get in and out of the kitchen must quicker. I wish we were neighbors…he and I would both help after one of your meals. This is a delicious meal, the twice frying makes the meat so crispy.

  21. So does your husband do part time work and available to come to my house? I sure need a personal assistant. Your spicy orange beef sounds lovely. It just glistens in your photo.

    1. Thank you Bam, for your nice compliment. I’ll tell my husband he has a job offer. Knowing how good of a cook you are, he might consider buying a plane ticket.

  22. I love to see partners who cook together. And I’ve never tried to make this dish (or anything really similar). I love the double frying technique–thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Victoria, My husband and I really do enjoy working together in the kitchen. The double frying technique makes a big difference when you want something to be very crispy. Thank you for your compliment.

  23. Well, I’m a little concerned since I seem to make a mess of my kitchen with much less complex dishes…but on the other hand, since I’m used to cleanup, this wouldn’t be any worse! This is such a family favorite when we eat out, I’d be really excited to serve it at home. Your photos are really appealing, too. My neighbors grow the chilis…the little Thai red ones–quite hot!–and the bush grows very tall and ambles over my fence for easy picking! THis would be a hit!

    1. Hi Debra, Thai chilies are incredibly hot. Having the chilies ambling over your fence, it sounds like the perfect dish for your family. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  24. You are so lucky Karen, I am cleaning my own mess in the kitchen! My husband only tastes and gives his opinion which is valuable but he doesn’t help me in the kitchen. I love Chinese and this beef has all the right ingredients for me! I would love to have a dish!

    1. Hi Katerina, Thank you for your nice comment. I hope you get a chance to make this dish. I know that a lot of men don’t like to help in the kitchen. I am very lucky that my husband likes to help.

  25. This sounds perfect, Karen. Jim and I are usually in the kitchen together on the weekends and he would probably do the frying here. I love the sauce and it looks like it gets nice and thick to coat the crispy beef – that is how I like this dish.

    1. Hi Becki, Thank you for your nice compliment. This recipe really did turn out well. It is fun to spend time in the kitchen together. Men do a great job when I comes to frying…I think it is because they are fearless.

  26. This looks good. You are so lucky to have your husband who is willing to clean up behind you. That makes everything easier. Kudos to you and your husband for a job well done!

    1. Hi Wicked, Thank you so much for your nice compliment. I totally agree…cleanup is the least favorite part of cooking. I am lucky that my husband helps.

  27. Karen, you may very well have inspired me with this one. This is one of my husband’s favorites but I usually let the restaurants handle it. And, I happen to have a deep fryer (although it hasn’t been taken out of the box since I bought it about 3 yrs. ago) so maybe it now has a purpose. Just a question though – I would definitely opt out of those Thai bird chiles but how much of a punch does the hot chili garlic sauce pack? I don’t mind a little bit of a zing but my system just can’t handle a wallop. Husband – no problem but I’d like to be able to eat some too, looks sooo good.

    1. Hi Diane, Thank you for your nice comment and I’m glad to have inspired you to make this dish. Definitely don’t use the Thai chilies, they will be too hot for you. Just use the hot chili garlic sauce and start with 1/2 tsp. and taste your sauce. It is not that spicy and you may decide to use more. When I develop a recipe I start with the smallest measurements and keep adding until I get the flavor I want…add taste, add taste.

    1. Thank you Asmita, for your nice compliment. I hope that you will enjoy the dish…it is a deliciously spicy, crispy and sweet dish.

    1. Thank you Liz, for the nice compliment…the beef turned out really well. It is so nice to have my husband help in the kitchen. I’m glad you have the same arrangement.

  28. DEE-Lish! I know EXACTLY what you mean with the scenario – Honey Bunny will listen and taste! He will give his opinion, but he does that knowing that I won’t always take it! However, I’m perfectly willing to blame him! LOL

    1. Hi Ann, Thank you for the compliment. I had to chuckle reading your comment. It sounds like we have two husbands that are exactly alike. More importantly is sounds like we are the same about opinions and blame as well. LOL.

  29. Karen, I have never heard about this recipe, but its name alone makes me think it’s fabulous. Then, judging from your photo it would be something I would love!
    There is a Chinese restaurant here serving crispy beef or chicken in a kind of sticky sauce. I have tried to reproduce it and it never worked. I wonder if they used a similar method to yours. In short, I must try it!
    By the way, I am the master of the kitchen mess. I am able to make a completely cleaned and empty kitchen look like a battlefield in 10 or 20 minutes…

    1. Hi Sissi, I do think that this is a recipe that you might like but knowing that you don’t like too much sweetness, you could eliminate the honey or at least reduce the amount. I think the double frying is the answer for crispy beef. Another mess maker…I wouldn’t have guessed.

    1. Oh Celia…you really made me laugh! Thank you so much for your comment. I love that everyone has enjoyed this post. Especially since my husband is the one that has given us our nicknames. I’m the mess maker and he is the kitchen slave. It appears that a lot of us thankfully have the same relationship in the kitchen. I’m really glad that you like the recipe!

  30. That dish looks delicious for sure and aren’t you the lucky one to have a husband that cleans up after you? 🙂 I guess that’s what they mean, when they say all of the good ones are taken. I hope you appreciate having a kichen slave. 😉

    1. Hi Marcy, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I really am lucky that my husband enjoys helping me in the kitchen. Not only does he help…he is a good cook as well.

  31. Hi karen,it,s Judie,lindas sister..I wanted to tell you how much I love backroad journal.i’ve made several recipes,your Easter pie being the last one… do such a great job and make everything so enticing.I am at lindas now and we are planing on making the beef and orange sauce.I would like to know if all your recipes are for four servings ? Love,judie

    1. Hi Judie, It is great to hear from you. I’m so pleased that you follow my blog and you have made some of the recipes. When I develop my recipes, I am cooking for two people. Many of the dishes make enough for four people…such as the brisket or the cuban pork. I would advise to look at how much the weight of meat portion is. For the beef, I used a pound which is eight ounces per person which is two very generous portions on this particular recipe. Lots of luck and I can’t wait to hear how it comes out. Love, Karen

      1. Hi Karen,We all enjoyed the Crispy Orange Chicken and was so easy to prepare.My husband Peter and brother in law Al thought it was a delicious meal. I look foward to checking out your wonderful journal.Love,Judie Chiappa

      2. Hi Judy, Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed the recipe. I’m sure it was good with chicken. Say “hello” to everyone. Again, I am happy that you enjoy my blog and I look forward to hearing from you again.

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