The name “Empress Chicken” suggests as if we are about to cook something really complicated, with a long list of ingredients and half a dozen cooking techniques that only professional chefs can master. An empress can’t be easy to please after all!

Well, you are in for a happy surprise as this Empress chicken recipe is one of the easiest things to cook and tastes lip-smacking-good with few ingredients very are quite easy to find almost anywhere.

It is said that Empress Chicken recipe is a less well known version of General Tso’s Chicken. In fact both these recipes as well as Orange Chicken and Sesame Chicken have their origin in American-Chinese cuisine with slight variations in the recipes and none of them are authentic Chinese dishes. In fact you will find a very similar tasting dish on Pakistani-Chinese restaurant menus, simply called “Sweet n Sour Chicken Stir Fry”.

The balance of sweet, hot and salty is different in all these dishes. Orange Chicken and Sesame Chicken usually come with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and General Tso’s Chicken with stir fried vegetables, specially broccoli. Empress chicken is on the hotter side with a pronounced tang in each bite from orange and vinegar.

Usually I love to load up my Asian style stir fry dishes with lots of vegetables but for this one, fried chicken in sweet and sour sauce really is the star of the show. If you have chicken in your fridge, I really can’t see why you should order from Chinese takeaway when you can make this very yummy dish in minutes at home. This way you can control the quantity of oil and salt going in it too.


For Crispy Fried Chicken:

1/2 kg boneless chicken, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons corn flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten
3-4 tablespoons sunflower oil

For Empress Chicken Sauce:

1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese hot sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
2 tablespoons corn flour
5-6 dry red chillies
A stalk spring onions, chopped

This Is What You Do:

Mix 4 tablespoons of corn flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Pour in an egg and make a smooth batter. Add chicken and mix to coat the pieces completely with the batter. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare all the other ingredients and arrange them near your cooking station because, like all stir fries, it’s going to be a quick affair.

Add oil to a wok or deep frying pan. Heat on medium high heat. Add batter coated chicken pieces and fry for 2-3 minutes or till the chicken is done and outer coating is crispy golden.

Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pan add onions, stir fry on medium high heat till they change colour, almost 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, fry another few seconds.

Add chicken stock or 1 cup water with 1 chicken cube.

Add orange juice and zest, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce and sugar. Let the mix cook for a minute to dissolve sugar.

Add 2 tablespoons corn flour, diluted in a little water. Stir to mix and keep stirring till the sauce begins to thicken (which happens pretty fast). Add chicken pieces and toss to coat them with sauce.

Garnish with dry red chillies and spring onions. Serve immediately with steamed rice or egg noodles.

Serves 2

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