Better Than Takeout: Sweet & Sour Chicken

Before we begin cooking, I'd like to introduce you to my latest category called "Better Than Takeout". A segment where I feature your favorite takeout/fast food classics made from scratch. Not only it is much cheaper but it gives you a chance to customize and put a spin on your go-to order🥡🥢 .


We'll begin with "Sweet & Sour Chicken", a personal favorite of mine.

A balanced composition found within a sweet and sour sauce, crispy fried chicken, chunks of pineapple and the familiar addition of red and green bell peppers.

Though this takeout classic originated in China, its likeness has spread throughout the Northern world. Ultimately, evolving within each kitchen it has been prepared in. Traditionally, it is served over steamed fragrant jasmine rice, a tradition we will continue throughout today's recipe.


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SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN 101
  • Chicken: I chose to utilize chicken thighs opposed to the breasts because of their higher fat content, which makes them inherently more flavorful and the simply fact that they won't dry out as chicken breasts often do. Chicken thighs are also much cheaper per lb than it's leaner counterpart.

  • Sauce: For the sauce, I wanted that traditional flavor to be elevated but still taste familiar. The inclusion of sesame oil and fresh minced ginger deepened and enhanced the sweet and sour notes, attributed from the addition of granulated sugar and white vinegar. To thicken the sauce, whisk equal parts cornstarch and water, to create a "slurry": a simple thickener commonly used when preparing soups, stews and sauces,

  • Aromatics: When it come to aromatics, the traditional route is the way to go. large diced onions and peppers are synonymous with the takeout classic. The addition of chunked pineapple ties the dish together with its balance of both sweet and tangy.

  • Rice: Though some form of fried rice is usually the norm when ordering takeout, jasmine rice or white rice is customarily served. Plain jasmine rice allows our chicken to be the star as that sweet and tangy sauce settles onto it.

 

How to Make:

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Yield: 4-5 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lb cubed chicken thighs *lightly seasoned

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch *sifted

  • 1 3/4 cup flour *sifted

  • 1 1/4 cup water *room temp

  • 1 egg *beaten

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • vegetable oil for frying *1 quart

  • 1/2 red bell pepper *large diced

  • 1/2 green bell pepper *large diced

  • 1 small onion *large diced

  • 1 cup of fresh or canned pineapple chunks

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

For Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 clove garlic *minced

  • 1 tbsp ginger *minced

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup ketchup

  • slurry: 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water

Other Ingredients:

  • sesame seeds

  • green onion

  • jasmine rice *cooked according to package instructions

prep tips:
  • When preparing your chicken thighs, rinse with lukewarm water prior to cubing. Once cubed into 1 inch pieces, rinse chicken once again with the addition of vinegar or the juice of one lime. After cleaning chicken, season lightly with 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp onion powder. *lightly seasoning the chicken will give more flavor but won't overpower our sauce.

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. In a large bowl, begin mixing the batter, combine sifted cornstarch, flour and salt. Slowly add water, beaten egg and oil. *The consistency should be thick but easy to pour.

  2. In a large pot or fryer, heat oil to 350º (if you do not have a thermometer, test oil with a sprinkle of flour). Prepare a pan lined with paper towel and set aside.

  3. Begin adding a cubed chicken to batter and coat thoroughly *about 7-8 pieces at a time

  4. Add battered chicken to hot oil in batches, frying for 5 minutes until chicken is crispy and slightly golden. Once batch is done, place onto paper towel to drain oil. *use a slotted spoon to remove chicken as well as batter bits. Set aside until ready to use.

  5. In a small bowl combine white vinegar, sugar, minced garlic & ginger, soy sauce and ketchup. To mixture, add cornstarch slurry this is made by whisking equal parts cornstarch and water into a bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

  6. Into a pan heated to medium-high heat, add sesame oil and olive oil. Add red and green bell peppers and onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened, add pineapple. Sauté for 2 minutes more.

  7. Add prepared sauce and cook for 2 minutes, sauce will begin to thicken. Once slightly thickened, add chicken. Coat chicken thoroughly in sauce.

  8. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.

  9. Serve on a bed of jasmine rice, prepared according to package instructions.

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