Spicy Tangerine Chicken with Black Rice is an authentic recipe with fabulous flavor, and the black rice makes it extra special!

Black rice, aka forbidden or purple rice, is an heirloom variety that has more fiber and nutrition than regular white rice.  The color is gorgeous; it starts out jet black and cooks up purplish…another example of the color = nutrition equation. The texture is firm and the flavor is nutty. Whole Foods type stores carry it, and some regular supermarkets are getting better about stocking unusual varieties these days. The brand I bought is Lotus Foods, an interesting specialty rice company dedicated to reviving exotic species of rice and promoting small sustainable farms in remote parts of the world.  Their amazing rices come in all shapes and sizes, and jewel tones.  If you can’t find it you can buy through their website.

I like the spicy/sweet dynamic in this dish so I used dried hot peppers, seeds and all.  You can leave out the hot pepper and make the dish all sweet, especially if you’re cooking for kids.  My two daughters are huge fans of the big restaurant chain orange chicken, and I know they would love this.

The rind is critical to the citrus flavor, so don’t skimp.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the tangerine (or orange) and then slice it into fine julienne.  You can also use a citrus zester to create very fine ribbons of zest.  You don’t want any of the white pith, which is bitter, just the colored part.  If you’re not much of a citrus rind lover, just mince it, that way you won’t bite into any big chunks.  Your nose will tell you you’re on the right track as you throw the rind into the hot pan with the chili and ginger…

This recipe is the result of a good bit of research into Tangerine Chicken.  If you watch The Big Bang Theory, you know that there is an important difference between Tangerine Chicken and Orange Chicken ;) Tangerine is a little less sweet, a little more complex, and has a hint of bitterness,  but you can use either. After checking out a bunch of versions, I settled on bits and pieces from different sources to get exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted the chicken to be fried in a light batter like the kind you get in restaurants, but I didn’t want the coating to be heavy.  I found the perfect batter here and it turned out just the way I wanted it to: lightly puffed and golden brown, perfect for grabbing on to the tangerine sauce.

The chicken pieces get dunked in a simple mix of egg with a tiny bit of flour and cornstarch, and then flash fried in peanut oil.  It keeps the chicken moist and tender while the outside has a little crunch.

The chicken takes on another texture altogether after it slides into the thick sauce, and results in the classic tangerine chicken we all know and love.

Everything in this recipe is available in the regular supermarket, with the possible exception of the black rice.

Spicy Tangerine Chicken with Black Rice

Yield: serves 2-4


  • 1 cup black rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, or chicken tenders, cut in bite sized chunks
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Peanut oil for frying the chicken
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 4 or 5 dried hot chilies, seeds and all, finely sliced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • The peel from 1 tangerine (or 1 orange) finely sliced (use a vegetable peeler to remove just the peel, no bitter white pith)
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 1-2 tsp chili paste
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh tangerine or orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp water
  • 5 or 6 scallions, finely sliced
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Sesame oil


  1. First make the chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and add the flour, cornstarch and salt. Add the chicken pieces right into the bowl and stir to coat.
  2. In a deep frying pan or wok, heat about 1/2 inch of peanut oil till quite hot, about 340F.
  3. Fry the chicken pieces, in batches, for about 3 minutes total, flipping halfway through till they are golden and cooked through. Don't crowd the pan, and keep the pieces separate as they cook. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.
  4. In a new or cleaned pan, heat 2 Tbsp of peanut oil and stir-fry the chilies for about a minute or two. Add the grated ginger and the orange peel and cook for another minute.
  5. Add in the onion and green pepper and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl or measuring cup mix the sauce: add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili paste, vinegar, sugar, honey and tangerine juice. Add this to the pan and stir to combine and heat till it's boiling. Let it cook for about a minute.
  7. Add a little of the cornstarch mix to the pan, just enough to thicken the sauce slightly, you won't need all of it.
  8. Add in the chicken, and stir gently to combine everything. Taste to see what you might need to add, maybe a little salt, maybe more vinegar. I sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  9. Serve hot over rice. Garnish with sliced scallions and drizzle each serving with the sesame oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


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19 Responses to Spicy Tangerine Chicken with Black Rice

  1. Nancy Catsiyannis says:

    This looks terrific! Here in Europe black rice goes under the name “riso Venere” (from Italy). I’m not sure, but that might help some of you find it! It’s definitely my favorite, it has such a particular taste. Thank you, Sue, your recipes and photos are out of this world, I want to try everything!

  2. Michael says:

    Holy smoke! I made it tonight and it’s out of this world delicious! My slight variation used extra chili peppers (I like it hot), a red pepper for color and dark brown Wehani rice because the black eluded me. This recipe rocks!

  3. […] from Great Island  Sue shares some amazing recipes on her blog, but the one that caught my eye was “Spicy Tangerine Chicken with Black Rice” because I love all things Asian.  I also love black rice.  Black rice is not something that was […]

  4. Nick says:

    Been shopping for a good tangerine chicken recipe and it looks like we have a winner.

  5. What a pretty dish. I can’t remember ever seeing black rice, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I will now. Thanks for the post, delicious sounding recipe.

  6. susan says:

    Sue, I could probably bribe my kids with this dish…I am going to try this using gluten free flours. Looks delish!

  7. What a pretty chicken dish. The black rice is gorgeous. Great Chinese flavors.

  8. Joanne says:

    So now I need to go searching for black rice, I guess! I’m intrigued. I recently bought red rice but haven’t used it yet…I’m waiting for the perfect meal. This may just be it! I love the citrus flavor and that it’s a REAL version of a take-out classic!

  9. Claudia says:

    I’ve never had that rice – but this dish has it all – splashes of grand color and just delicious flavors.

  10. Jacquelyn says:

    Hi Sue. This dish reminds me of one the entree I always get at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I love all the flavor combinations this dish brings and especially topped on black rice.

  11. I was just looking at a bag of forbidden rice on a recent grocery shopping trip, but I don’t recall where. I typically go to one of three different stores, however it might have been Whole Foods which you mentioned.

    Your tangerine/orange chicken looks great; it’s one of my favourite dishes!

  12. The sauce and black rice sound delicious and creative!

  13. Yum, yum and yum! Haven’t tried making any orange flavored chicken but know several people in my family that would be happy if I did! Very nice – have a super Wednesday.

  14. Kate says:

    Gorgeous photos!! Now this HAS to be made at our house! If I can’t eat at your house at least I get a feast with my eyes every time I visit your blog <3. You are a "site" for sore eyes ;)

  15. Bryan says:

    Oh my, such lovely photos! That chicken looks wonderful, never had some with tangerine, will have to try it.

  16. Mary says:

    This sounds FANTASTIC! I have tried no less than four orange chicken recipes in the past few months. I’m a break from them for the time being, but this one will be at the top of my list when I’m ready to try again. I love the tangerine variation!

  17. Everything about this looks magical! I love all of the bold colors. The chicken Looks absolutely perfect once fried. Simply put? I want this right now. And I want to find some black rice!

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