Sweet and Sour Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that has been enjoyed by people all around the world.
This mouth-watering delicacy originated in Guangdong province, China, where it is called “gu lou yuk” or “糖醋鱼,” which translates to sugar vinegar fish.
However, it made its way to the United States in the early 20th century, where it was modified to include chicken and adapted to the American palate.
The dish consists of breaded and fried chicken pieces, smothered in a tangy sauce made with vinegar, sugar, and ketchup or tomato paste, along with various vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and pineapples.
The balance of sweet and sour flavors, along with the crunchy texture of the chicken, make it a tempting dish that has become a staple on most Chinese restaurant menus.
Many variations of the dish exist, with some adding different ingredients or using alternative meats such as pork, shrimp or tofu. The versatility, taste, and simplicity of preparation make sweet and sour chicken a popular choice for both home cooks and diners alike.
Here is why you will love this recipe:
1. It’s a classic takeout dish that is easy to prepare at home, saving you money and time.
2. The combination of sweet and tangy flavors make for a delicious and satisfying meal.
3. The versatile recipe can be customized with different vegetables and protein choices, catering to various dietary restrictions and preferences.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
- Add vegetable oil to your wok which will be enough to deep fry. If you want to shallow fry instead, add less vegetable oil to your wok or large frying pan. Both of these methods will work but deep frying produces quicker results.
- To your prep bowl, add the plain flour, corn flour, baking powder and water. Stir to combine and add the paprika too.
- Cut the chicken breasts into diced chunks, season with salt and black pepper, and add to your prep bowl.
- Once your wok or large frying pan is heated (175°C for deep frying) , and the chicken chunks and fry until golden brown, for around 5 minutes.
- Remove and strain out the excess oil on kitchen roll. You now have battered chicken.
- Add the vegetable oil to your large frying pan on medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes, until they are translucent.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and continue to stir, followed by the peppers for another minute.
- Add in the remainder ingredients: tomato ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and pineapple chunks.
- Allow to simmer for a few minutes and reduce the heat.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add the battered chicken and stir to combine for 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
- Best served with rice
2. Use fresh ingredients such as ginger, garlic, and onions for the sauce to add depth to its taste
3. Add pineapple chunks and bell peppers for a colorful and nutritious dish
4. Use a wok or a large pan to cook the chicken and vegetables evenly
5. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch mixed with water for a glossy texture
6. Serve the sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice to balance its flavors
7. Garnish the dish with chopped green onions or cilantro for an extra burst of freshness.
Data source: USDA
– Chicken: typically boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are used in this recipe.
– Cornstarch: used to coat the chicken before frying and helps to thicken the sauce.
– Soy sauce: adds savory, umami flavor.
– Rice vinegar: used to make the sweet and sour sauce.
– Brown sugar: adds sweetness to the sauce.
– Ketchup: adds a tangy flavor and also helps to thicken the sauce.
– Pineapple: typically used in sweet and sour chicken dishes and adds a sweet and tart flavor.
– Bell pepper: adds crunch and color to the dish.
– Onion: adds flavor and texture.
– Garlic: added for aroma and flavor.
– Ginger: added for its slight spiciness and flavor.
– Vegetable oil: used for frying the chicken.
To store sweet and sour chicken, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to three days. To store it for longer, freeze it for up to three months.
To freeze sweet and sour chicken, let it cool down completely before transferring it into an airtight container or freezer bag. Label the container with the date and contents before placing it in the freezer.
To defrost sweet and sour chicken, transfer it from the freezer to the fridge and let it thaw overnight. You can also defrost it in the microwave or on the stovetop, but be sure to cook it immediately afterward.
When reheating sweet and sour chicken, you can do so in the microwave or on the stovetop. If using the microwave, cover the container with a damp paper towel to prevent the chicken from drying out. If using the stovetop, reheat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
1. Pineapple Sweet and Sour Chicken – Add diced pineapple to the sauce for a tropical twist.
2. Sesame Sweet and Sour Chicken – Coat the chicken in sesame seeds and add sesame oil to the sauce for a nutty flavor.
3. Vegan Sweet and Sour “Chicken” – Substitute the chicken for tofu or seitan to create a meatless version.
4. Spicy Sweet and Sour Chicken – Add chili flakes or hot sauce to the sauce for a spicy kick.
5. Honey Sweet and Sour Chicken – Add honey to the sauce for a sweeter flavor.
6. Cashew Sweet and Sour Chicken – Add cashews to the dish for added crunchiness and texture.
7. Orange Sweet and Sour Chicken – Substitute the vinegar in the sauce with orange juice for a citrusy flavor.
8. Garlic Sweet and Sour Chicken – Add garlic to the dish for a savory twist.
9. Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken – Use cauliflower or broccoli as a low-carb alternative to the chicken.
10. Almond Sweet and Sour Chicken – Substitute the cashews with almonds for a different take on the original dish.
What To Serve With
– White rice or fried rice
– Steamed or stir-fried vegetables (such as broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and snow peas)
– Spring rolls or egg rolls
– Sesame seeds or chopped green onions for garnish
– Pineapple chunks for added sweetness
– Fortune cookies for a fun dessert option
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