Thursday, October 02, 2008

Not Too Sweet & Sour Chicken

Last night I made Sweet & Sour Chicken with a recipe from Simply Recipe which came by way of Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, both great blogs!!! Having made a chicken with this type of coating before I was a little apprehensive. You see, the last time I made chicken like this, it turned out awful. So, I approached cautiously and too my time cooking the chicken. Guess what? It was great!

The big key here is to take your time and work in batches. Don't let your pan get overcrowded with chicken pieces, add them one at a time and make sure your pan it hot.

Start by letting your chicken rest in a marinade/coating of egg whites, salt and cornstarch. It's a small quantity, but coats the chicken sufficiently. This is the "style" of cooking I was referring to. The egg white/cornstarch batter. The last time I made it, I hurried the cooking along by dumping the chicken into the pan...along with the excess batter and got gross chicken...BTW...that's what that recipe had said to do, so I did what I was told...

I've added the chicken to the pan and made sure there was space between the bits. If the chicken is too close to one another, then as they cook, steam will generate and you won't get golden, crisp chicken, but soggy, gray chicken.

As the chicken cooks, you need to turn the pieces to make sure they get golden, brown and delicious on both sides. When these were done, they were very tasty. I'm sure they can be used for many different applications! They are almost 'batter fried' chicken bites, but with MUCH less oil and no flour. They would be great coated in any number of sauces, including a General Tso's or even a Buffalo sauce!

After the chicken is done, remove and keep warm on a plate. Then start your vegetables. I had two carrots and one bell pepper, so that's what I used. The recipe calls for one red and one yellow pepper. I'm sure you can add just about any veg you want. If you use carrots, give them about two minutes of solo cooking time before you add the peppers. They take the longest amount of time to cook. Add the peppers, cook, ginger, cook and then the pineapple. I don't love big chunks of pineapple in my sweet & sour, so I cut the chunks in half. My preference. I also only used about 1 cup of pineapple, vs. the whole can.

Once the veg have cooked most of the way, you add the sauce...brown sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice and ketchup. Some salt as well. Bring to a simmer.

Add the chicken back in and stir to coat. Cook for one final minute in the simmering sauce.

Serve over rice if you like. Sweet, not cloying and yet very tangy! This is a keeper.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
from Simply Recipe

* 1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1" chunks
* 1 egg white
* 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp table salt)
* 2 tsp cornstarch
* 1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
* 1/4 cup juice from the canned pineapple
* 1/4 cup white vinegar
* 1/4 cup ketchup
* 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp table salt)
* 2-3 TB brown sugar
* 1 TB + 1 tsp cooking oil
* 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
* 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
* 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1. In a bowl, combine the chicken with the egg white, salt and cornstarch. Stir to coat the chicken evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

2. In the meantime, whisk together the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar.

3. Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Pour in the 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat. It's important that the pan is very hot. Add the chicken and spread the chicken out in one layer. Let the chicken fry, untouched for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned. Flip and fry the other side the same for 1 minute. The chicken should still be pinkish in the middle. Dish out the chicken onto a clean plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

4. Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. Let the oil heat up and then add the bell pepper chunks and ginger. Fry for 1 minute. Add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce. Turn the heat to high and when the sauce is simmering, add the chicken pieces back in. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Timing depends on how thick you've cut your chicken. The best way to tell if the chicken is done is to take a piece out and cut into it. If it's pink, add another minute to the cooking.

Taste the sauce and add more brown sugar if you’d like.


Dancer in DC said...

This was a nice filling dish that didn't have the heaviness or transparent sweetness that you get from a take-out place. I wanted to eat more, but one plate was enough.

And I WASN'T hungry later!

SteamyKitchen said...

Thanks for trying the recipe!