This Sweet & Sour Chicken is exactly what I remember from home. Lightly crispy chicken breast is coated in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. Serve it with sticky rice and skip the take out. You'll love it.
I know I talk a lot about the differences between America and Britain, but friends, they never stop. Yes, I realize that American Chinese food is nothing like the food in China. I lived in Taiwan for two years, so I've seen for myself. What I wasn't prepared for was how different Chinese food would be in the UK. They have a lot the same dishes we have in America, but the way it's prepared is so weird.
When I order Sweet & Sour Chicken from a Chinese takeaway, what I expect to get is bite-size pieces of chicken coated in egg and corn starch so it has a thin crispy coating on the outside. Then, it should be liberally tossed in the sauce so that it's well coated but not swimming in sauce. That's how I like it.
When I order Sweet & Sour Chicken from a Chinese place in the UK, I either get pieces of plain, possibly boiled chicken or little bits of chicken encased in a thick pancake-like batter served as big balls. Then there's like a lake of sauce. I mean, I really like sweet and sour sauce, but what am I supposed to do with that? Swim in it? I can't get into it.
Thankfully I found this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker that reminds me exactly of Sweet & Sour Chicken from home. When I first made it, I didn't read through the entire recipe, which obviously you should never do. I just looked at the ingredients list, thought yeah, that looks good. Turns out it takes over an hour to make, but the wait is totally worth it.
How do I make Sweet & Sour Chicken?
After we chop and season our chicken (we like chicken breast, but you do what you want), we're gonna coat it in corn starch, then dip it in beaten egg before pan frying it in a little oil just to brown the outside. Don't worry if it's cooked all the way through at this point because like I said, it's going in the oven for an hour. At this point you might be thinking, if I cook this for an hour in the oven after frying it, won't it be horribly dry? I thought that, too. The answer is no, it's perfect.
Before it goes in the oven, we make up our sauce with sugar. There's lots of it. Be prepared. The word sweet is in the title. Then we add ketchup, rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar would also work, or a combination if you're low on rice vinegar like I was the first time) soy sauce, and some garlic powder. Stir that all together, pour it over the chicken before it goes in the oven, and toss the chicken in the sauce ever 15 minutes as it bakes to coat it in the sauce.
You can also add some veggies, either on the side or right in with the dish. I used red bell pepper and added it to the baking dish along with my chicken pieces. Then I topped it with some sliced green onions for a little hit of something fresh and green at the end. You could use onion, pineapple, whatever you love. And of course, serve it over a bed of sticky white or brown rice. I think you should eat it with chopsticks, but I'm a weirdo.
We all like a bit of comfort, and to me, this Sweet & Sour Chicken takes me back to my childhood, where I was an even more picky eater than I am now. Make your own take out, so you can get it exactly the way you like. It's gonna be awesome.
Sweet & Sour ChickenCourse: DinnerCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy
Sweet & Sour Chicken features lightly crispy chicken coated in a sweet and tangy sauce served rice.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup corn starch
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup caster or granulated sugar
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
- Preheat your oven to 325 F (160 C) and dig out a small casserole or pie dish for later.
- Once your chicken is all chopped up, add it to a bowl, season it with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the corn starch. Toss the chicken and corn starch together until eveyr piece is thinly coated. I use my hands for this. I can't think of a better tool.
- Put a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once your pan is hot, grab a handful of chicken, toss it in the beaten egg to coat, let any excess egg drip between your fingers, and add it to the pan. Work quickly to get all of your chicken coated in the egg and into the pan so that the first pieces don't burn. You should have just enough egg to coat your chicken.
- Toss your egg coated chicken in the hot pan for a few minutes until it's browned on all sides. It doesn't need to be cooked through. When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to your waiting casserole dish in a single layer. Add your chopped bell pepper to the casserole as well.
- To make the sauce, simply add the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic powder to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bell pepper and give everything a little stirr to coat it all in the sauce.
- Bake your chicken and sauce in the oven for an hour. Pull it out every 15 minutes to give it a toss to make sure the chicken is coated in the sauce.
- While the chicken is baking, cook up some rice.
- To serve, add some rice to each bowl, spoon over plenty of chicken and bell pepper, and a little extra sauce. Use scissors snip some green onion over the top. Serve hot.
- If you're wanting to feed another person, this amount of sauce could probably handle another chicken breast. You might need a second egg .
- You can cut back on the sugar by a few tablespoons if you really need to. Any more than that and I won't vouch for the results. The first word is sweet, so just lean into it.
Looking for more chicken dinner ideas? Try this Teriyaki Chicken.