If you have walked down the freezer aisle of Trader Joe’s, odds are you might have seen a bag of their “Trader Ming’s Mandarin Orange Chicken.” I absolutely love this stuff, and I could probably eat the entire bag if I wasn’t looking. With pre-battered chicken and packets of a savory orange ginger sauce, this frozen package is perfect for a dinnertime meal.

Last night, I was in the mood for a change of pace for dinner. I looked around the fridge, and that’s when the idea came to my head to put something new together. I have always eaten the mandarin chicken by itself, so why not give it a shot to pair it with something else?

Mandarin Chicken with Noodles
Makes 2 servings

~ 1/4 – 1/2 box of spaghetti (depending on how much pasta you like)
~ 1 scallion (green onion) stalk
~ 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, while pouring the frozen chicken onto an oven tray. Put the chicken into the oven for roughly 18 – 20 minutes (the package notes to cook the chicken until it’s a golden-brown color and crispy).

While that is cooking, heat up a pot of water to make the pasta. This is where you can substitute other types of pasta if you’d like. I went with the angel hair pasta again since that’s the box that I already had opened in my pantry. Do your best to time it so that the chicken and the pasta are done concurrently; that way, you have both items at their freshest when you put everything together.

When you have the window of time as both the chicken and pasta are cooking, cut up the scallions into small pieces (the width should be no more than 1/8 of an inch) and set that aside. As the finishing time of both of the items begins to draw to a close, take the sauce packets from the mandarin chicken and empty them into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat that up on high for about a minute.

When the pasta is done, put all of it into a medium-sized bowl. Use about half of the mandarin orange sauce and toss it into pasta (I think I used more than that, but incrementally add more in and taste, as you don’t want to overload the pasta with too much sauce). After you’re satisfied with the level of sauce for the pasta, sprinkle in some sesame seeds and add in the scallions, mixing everything together thoroughly to make sure it’s spread evenly.

When plating, put down the noodles first, and then put your chicken pieces right on top. Take your plate back over to the bowl of sauce, and use that to drizzle a bit of extra sauce right on top to lightly coat the chicken. Garnish with more sesame seeds and scallions, and you’ve got yourself quite the fancy-looking dinner.

Potential Adjustments:

  • The noodles were sticking together a little bit (quite possibly as a result of leaving them sitting together too long after straining them). Next time, I want to try out tossing the noodles in the sauce much more quickly. Another option would be to use some sesame oil to lightly coat the noodles after tossing them in the sauce. I’ve found that the noodles will absorb the sauce rather quickly (and thus, the flavor), so there’s not too much harm in throwing in a tad of oil afterwards.

Categories: Recipes

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