Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sweet & Sour chicken

Sweet and sour chicken was one of the first 'Chinese food' dishes the Witch ever tried. I have no doubt that its about as inauthentic of a Chinese dish you can find, but boy is it ever good! Deep fried chunks of chicken and a gloopy red overy sweet sauce, mmm sounds great, right? Ok, so maybe it does, but it doesn't have to be a deep fried over sweetened nightmare, not if you employ a little Kitchen Witchcraft.

I used the velveting technique for the chicken, exactly like I've done before for Schezwan Chicken, rather than deep frying it. Deep frying might taste delicious but boy, is it a caloric blow. Velveting the chicken makes it very tender, soft on the outside and really allows the gently sweet and tangy sauce cling to the meat and veggies.

Speaking of veggies, I went with a tomato of all things! A tomato in Chinese food, really Kitchen Witch? Yes! When I made the Pan seared steaks with sweet & sour sauce the recipe called for an onion and 2 tomatoes. It was delicious! I knew then that I wanted to use the same sauce pretty much and the same veggie combo. I wasn't sorry, either. The tomato really cooked down into the sauce and added great sweetness, sourness and fresh flavor. A red bell pepper and an onion round out the flavors. I also added a drained can of water chestnuts, mostly because I had them but also because I really enjoy their crunch. Play around with the veggies, use whatever you have on hand and what you like.

All in all I have to say this was pretty good. The sauce wasn't over overpoweringly sweet or sour, which was nice. I do think that next time I'll cook my onions first, they didn't really get cooked down enough for my liking (we all know how I adore caramelized onions!) so I'd do the onions first, then add the garlic & ginger, then the rest of the ingredients. That just means I'll have to make this again. I'm pretty sure the family will be happy as they all really liked this dish.

Sweet & sour chicken
makes 4 servings

Chicken and velveting marinade
2 chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks
1 T corn starch
1 T white wine
1 T oil
1 egg white
1/2 t kosher salt

2 T ketchup
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1/2 c chicken stock or water
2 T sugar
1 T corn starch

1 bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tomato peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion sliced thin
1 can water chestnuts
2 cloves garlic minced
1 t ginger fresh grated

2 T oil for stir fry
cooked rice

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Place in a bowl and add the kosher salt, mix well to coat. Then add the wine, mix well to coat. Next add the egg white mixing well but not enough to froth the egg. Next sprinkle the corn starch over the chicken, mix well. Finally add the oil and mix to coat. Cover and allow to marinade at room temp for 30 minutes.

While this is marinading prep all veggies and assemble the sauce. Reserve 3 T of the sauce and mix the 1 T corn starch in, making a slurry. Set aside until later.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Work in 3 batches and add the coated chicken to the boiling water. Allow to simmer for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You will pull the chicken just after the outside turns white. It is NOT fully cooked at this time. Repeat until all chicken is done this way.

Heat a large cast iron skillet or a wok over high heat. When pan is hot add the oil, the garlic and ginger, stir fry quickly until it starts to brown, about 30 seconds max.

Add the veggies and chicken next. Stir fry and cook about 5 to 10 minutes, until veggies are tender crisp and chicken is cooked through.

Add the sauce and stir to coat everything in sauce. Add the corn starch slurry and stir well to distribute. Once thickened remove from heat and serve with hot cooked rice.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 303.6
Total Fat 12.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 g
Cholesterol 69.1 mg
Sodium 592.4 mg
Potassium 418.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 16.8 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Sugars 9.1 g
Protein 29.5 g


Jenn said...

I think sweet and sour chicken was the first dish I tried too...well outside of crab rangoon! I still have yet to try this velveting technique...I better get on it! Your sweet and sour chicken looks amazing! I'd love some right now!

Design Wine and Dine said...

I love all the Asian dishes you do! This looks awesome and I love the addition of tomatoes!

Pam said...

I love sweet and sour chicken - yours looks excellent.

StephenC said...

I learned about "velveting" from a book on Chinese cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop. Your corroboration of what it does to the texture of the meat leads me to think I need to get busy and try it.

Chef Bee said...

Great recipe. I admit I do like the crispy fried skin. Your sauce sounds good.

Plan B

Yenta Mary said...

It may not be authentic Chinese, but it's still my son's favorite food to order at the restaurant! I'll have to try this -- I know he'll love it ... :)

Ananda Rajashekar said...

Schezwan Chicken, is my all time fav, oh yes i should try velveting of chicken...great recipe!

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