S1E4 (Elimination Test) – Chinese Theme: Mandarin Oranges

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For the first elimination test of the season, contestants were asked to produce a Chinese-themed dish including mandarin oranges (the ingredient selected by last challenge’s winner, Whitney) in just one hour. Most of the contestants stuck to the cliched, americanized version of “Chinese” stir-fry and things shook out like this:

Faruq (Stuffed Chicken), Avis (Orange Chicken), and Sheena (Warm Mandarin Salad) were in the bottom three.

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And Sharone (Crispy Sesame Chicken), Tracy (Ginger Madarin Chicken), and Mike (Nutty Orange Chicken), were in the top three.

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In the end, Avis and Sheena were eliminated and Mike was declared the winner.

For my rendition of the challenge, I was determined to do more than just a stir-fry, but having been to China just last year, the only food I remembered that would not qualify as such was peking duck, dim sum and hot pot – all of which did not exactly fit into the challenge. So I decided to do a spin on one of my favorite dishes: Lettuce Wraps. When I’ve done this recipe before, I’ve used this tasty and simple recipe: Asian Lettuce Wraps. But I knew I wanted to try something a little bit different so I decided to do some orange-sesame chicken lettuce wraps with coconut-infused jasmine rice.

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To create the lettuce wrap filling (enough for 2-3 servings), I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Green Onions, Chopped (I used a third one for garnish so I went ahead and chopped all three at the same time and just saved some for later)
  • 4-ounce Can of Water Chestnuts, Minced (I had to mince them by hand but you can usually find cans where they are already minced for you)
  • 5 Ounces of Shitake Mushrooms, Coarsely Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup of Chopped Yellow Onions
  • 1/2 of a Green Bell Pepper
  • 30 Slices of Mandarin Oranges, Chopped (I unfortunately had to use canned mandarin oranges but definitely use fresh if you can)
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, Cut into Small Chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Duck Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Teaspoons Dark Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Toasted Sesame seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
  • Pinch each of Anise, Cinnamon, Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Sambal Oelek or your choice of Chili Paste (This will make the dish a medium-level of spicy. Use more or less depending on your preferred level of spiciness)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I just threw all of this in a wok and cooked until it was finished. It only took about 10-15 minutes to cook (See Before and After pictures below). The majority of the work with this is definitely in the prep stage.

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For the coconut rice, I used:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • Juice of 1/4 Orange (I had to use a regular orange for this because my grocery store does not sell fresh mandarin oranges, but if you can get them, use that)
  • Pinch of Coarse Sale
  • 1 cup of jasmine rice

After completing the prep work involved in the filling, I filled a pot with the water, coconut milk, orange juice, and salt. I brought that to a boil, then stirred in the jasmine rice. Then, I just covered the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes. (This is when I started cooking the chicken filling). After 20 minutes, I took the pot (still covered) off the heat and let it rest 5 more minutes.

Then, everything was ready to plate. I placed the lettuce leaves on the serving dish (I used Romaine but you can use whatever your favorite lettuce is). Then, I put a layer of coconut rice followed by the orange-chicken. Finally, I garnished the dish with mandarin oranges, green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

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Lettuce wraps with orange-sesame chicken and coconut-infused jasmine rice

Even though I tried to avoid making a stir-fry, that’s actually exactly what I did – just dressed up a little differently. It took me just about an hour and it tasted delicious – probably my favorite thing I have made so far. Given that most people received negative feedback in the challenge, I think this dish would have fared pretty well. I’ll have another dish tomorrow so be sure to come back then to see what happens next!

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One thought on “S1E4 (Elimination Test) – Chinese Theme: Mandarin Oranges

  1. Pingback: CROCKPOT ORANGE CHICKEN! | My Recipe

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