How to Prepare Sweet and Sour Chicken
Here is the sweet and sour chicken recipe that gives a perfect balance of tangy and sweet flavors, creating a harmonious symphony of tastes. This recipe features tender pieces of chicken coated in a crispy cornstarch crust, bathed in a vibrant sauce that combines the zing of vinegar, the sweetness of sugar, and the savory notes of soy sauce.
Tips for cooking sweet and sour chicken
Before cooking, marinating the chicken pieces in a sweet and sour sauce can enhance their flavor and tenderness. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.
Coat the chicken pieces in cornstarch before frying them. This helps create a crispy exterior and prevents the chicken from becoming soggy when combined with the sweet and sour sauce later.
Incorporate a variety of fresh vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and pineapple to add texture, color, and flavor to the dish. These vegetables provide a contrast to the sweetness of the sauce and make the dish more visually appealing.
Adjust the sauce's consistency to your preference. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can add a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water) to thicken it. On the other hand, if you like a lighter and thinner sauce, you can add a bit of water or chicken broth to dilute it.
Sweet and sour chicken is best when the chicken is crispy and the vegetables are tender-crisp. Be mindful of the cooking times for each component to achieve the desired texture. Cook the chicken until it is golden brown and fully cooked, and the vegetables until they are vibrant and slightly tender.
½ kg boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg white
2 teaspoon cornstarch
For the sauce
Juice from one 8-ounce can pineapple chunks or rings
3 teaspoon ketchup
2 teaspoon distilled white or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoon sugar
For the cornstarch slurry
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
For the stir-fry
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 white onion, diced
4 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (about ½-inch segment)
Chunks from a pineapple can or pineapple rings cut into chunks
1 cup cashews, optional
Cut the chicken into ⅛-inch slices and place them in a medium bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water then shake vigorously.
Drain the chicken by using a fine-mesh strainer set over the sink. Press on the chicken with your hands to remove any remaining water.
In another medium bowl, combine the chicken with salt, soy sauce, wine, sugar, baking soda, egg white, and cornstarch. Stir the mixture vigorously using your fingertips or chopsticks.
Set the bowl aside and let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar until they are well blended. Set the mixture aside.
In another separate small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water, and stir with a fork until the cornstarch is fully dissolved
Heat 1 liter of water in a pan over high heat until it reaches a boil. Carefully add the chicken to the boiling water, ensuring you add each piece individually to prevent sticking.
Stir occasionally and cook until the water briefly simmers again and the chicken is mostly cooked through, which usually takes around 30 to 60 seconds.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading it out in a single layer to allow it to dry. Set the chicken aside. Empty the contents of the pan and wipe it clean.
Ensure the pan is well-oiled by rubbing a thin layer of oil into it then place the pan over high heat until it starts to smoke.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl it around to coat the wok evenly. Place in the bell peppers and onion into the wok, stirring and tossing them occasionally.
Cook until they become brightly colored and develop some browned spots, which usually takes about 1 minute.
Create a space in the center of the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Then, add the garlic and ginger, stirring continuously until they become fragrant, which should take around 30 seconds.
Return the chicken to the pan, followed by the pineapple chunks and cashews if you're using them.
Stir the sauce and pour it into the pan, ensuring it is evenly distributed by pouring it around the edges.
Stir the cornstarch slurry before adding a small amount to the pan. Continue cooking and tossing the ingredients until the sauce thickens and the chicken is fully cooked, approximately 30 seconds more.
Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding more cornstarch slurry if it is too thin or a splash of water if it is too thick
Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with steamed rice or any other preferred dish.
What to serve with sweet and sour chicken
Steamed Rice: Sweet and sour chicken is often enjoyed with steamed rice. The fluffy rice helps balance the flavors of the tangy chicken dish and absorbs the delicious sauce.
Fried Rice: If you want to add more variety to the meal, serving sweet and sour chicken with fried rice can be a great choice. The combination of the savory fried rice and the sweet and sour chicken creates a flavorful and satisfying meal.
Stir-Fried Vegetables: A side of stir-fried vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, or snap peas, can provide a refreshing and nutritious accompaniment to the sweet and sour chicken. The vibrant colors and crunchy texture of the vegetables complement the dish well.