A few days ago, I was reading an article about the ten most ordered take-out Chinese food in the US. One of the ten is “orange beef.” I’ve never heard of it, there is a Chinese “tangerine beef” but not orange beef, and I surmised that orange beef must be one of those dishes invented by a Chinese cook in America — much like the “orange chicken” that has made an appearance in local Chinese fast food outlets in the Philippines lately. You know, more of Chinese-style or Chinese-inspired rather than authentic Chinese.
Curious as to whether orange beef is just the beef version of orange chicken, I searched the web. I was half-hoping that there would be a recipe by a Chinese in America but the results yielded recipes in American websites written mostly by Americans. Not surprisingly, in many of the recipes, the “orange” component of the dish consisted of orange marmalade.
Interesting, I thought. But just how much marmalade can one add to meat without making the dish too sweet? When we went grocery shopping a day after I read the article, I decided I’d try making orange beef. On the way to the jam and jellies section, I passed by the Asian section and saw this bottle of orange sauce. It’s an item I had never seen on grocery shelves before and, for a moment, I debated whether to try it or get a jar of orange marmalade instead. Obviously, I picked the orange sauce over the marmalade.
So, what is orange sauce like? It’s not as sweet as orange marmalade, definitely. It has more pulp than rind, it is a bit spicy because there is garlic among the ingredients and it is thickened by starch rather than sugar.
I mixed the orange sauce with soy sauce, Sriracha and grated garlic, and used the mixture to flavor by beef. The sauce was good but my beef slices were too thin and the resulting texture of the dish wasn’t too good. Next time, I’ll use beef strips and try again using the same mixture.