The trick with making any Chinese food and it’s guaranteed success is to prepare everything before hand. You need to get all your ingredients together, chopped, diced, marinated, sauces prepared in little bowls, absolutely everything that belongs in a recipe must be at hand when you fire your wok up to inferno temperatures!
The idea is to cook everything very quickly, on a high heat, so that all the juices, natural vitamins and minerals are sealed for maximum flavour and goodness.
Not only are flavours and nutrients important in Chinese cooking, but texture also carries a high importance. In this dish, you have the crispy coating of the chicken in contrast to the soft velvety texture of the actual chicken breast , then crunchy peppers.
Then there’s the unique flavour of sweet and sour. The sweetness from the pineapple juice and sugar, contrasting with the sourness of the vineagar. Who would have thought this combination of flavours would work?! But it does, as Sweet and Sour Chicken is one of the top most popular Cantonese dishes in the world!
Now of course, if you don’t want to use chicken, you can use Tofu, the best type is the deep fried cubes you can get (no need to coat in cornflour), or you can use pork fillet, or a white fish, such as cod. Just remember to adjust cooking times according to what you use.
So lets go on a foodie heaven journey and explore this wonderful dish. It will delight all that try it and amaze your friends with how authentically you can cook this dish!
1. You need a wok!
2. Get all your ingredients prepared and ready for the wok before you start cooking anything.
3. Serve with a bowl of Thai fragrant rice…mmmmm delicious!
4. When you are ready for serving, don’t hang around! The food must be served as soon as it comes out of the wok, for maximum taste and texture.
5. Quantities for vegetables can be as much or little as you wish. You can also change the vegetables to suit you, but the vegetables I have used here are the traditional ones you would find for this dish.
6. Trust me, 2 chicken breasts will be more than enough for 4 persons…even the die hard Flinstone meat eater in your family will be full after this dish!
7. Have some kitchen roll in the house and a bowl of hot soapy water.
8. Do not be overwhelmed by all the instructions! Take each stage step by step and it will go smoothly. The care and time you take to make this dish will be reflected in the end result!
For the meat
2 chicken breast fillets
Enough vegetable oil to fill your pan 1 inch deep. I use a wide wok and so about 1 cup of vegetable oil was used.
A few sheets of kitchen paper
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 Teaspoons Chinese Rice wine
1 egg white beaten (save the yolk for the coating below)
4 cups or 500 g cornflour / cornstarch
2 eggs plus the yolk left over from the marinade above. Beaten
1 Red pepper
1 Green pepper
6 Pineapple rings (use canned in own juice and not syrup)
1 knob of fresh ginger, 1 inch
2 spring onions / scallions
1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons cornflour / cornstarch
The juice from the can of pineapples
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 pineapple ring cut into 4 pieces
1 Tablespoon tomato puree
Hot water, enough when combined with your pineapple juice to make up a total of 1 pint or 2 1/2 cups or 0.6 quart
The main thing we need to do is get everything ready before we start cooking. You will get a bit messy when preparing the chicken, but if you’ve got a cloth and hot soapy water then you have no need to worry!
Preparing the meat.
1. Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces, about half the length of your thumb.
2. In a bowl, add all the marinade ingredients EXCEPT the beaten egg white. Keep this in a separate bowl for now.
3. Add the meat to the marinade and leave for 20 minutes.
Prepare the vegetables.
Get a plate ready to put all your prepared vegetables on.
1. These should be bite size pieces, so the peppers, I usually cut in half, remove the seeds and pith from inside, then cut into squares, about 2 cm wide / long.
2. The onion, cut into quarters or eighths, and separate each layer so they will cook evenly.
3. The spring onions / scallions, chop into little 1/2 cm pieces and keep separate from the rest of your vegetables.
4. The ginger, peel (I just scrape the skin off with a knife) and chop finely.
Prepare the sauce.
1. Add all the ingredients EXCEPT the hot water into a measuring jug. Mix well so the cornflour has combined.
2. Add the hot water to make up the liquid mixture to total 1 pint or 1 1/2 cups or 0.6 quart. (see photo below)
3. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. The sauce will thicken as the starch cooks, and you will notice a change in colour to a deeper orange/red. Make sure you keep stirring to avoid any lumps.
4. When thick enough (consistency of yoghurt) turn off heat.
NOTE: You will need to taste the sauce for the right amount of sugar or vinegar. Some prefer a sharper tasting sauce, and some sweet, so add more of sugar or vinegar to suit your preference. The measurements I have given are a rough guide for you.
Back to the chicken – The coating method, so this is where things could get a bit messy!
You need 2 shallow dishes and a flat plate or baking tray.
1. Add the beaten egg white into the chicken meat marinade and mix well, making sure every piece of chicken is coated with the egg white. Use your fingers!
2. Put the 2 beaten eggs and the 1 egg yolk left over from the chicken marinade in a shallow dish and beat lightly.
3. In another shallow dish weigh out the cornstarch /cornflour (500g / 4 cups)
4. Heavily cover a baking tray or large dish with cornflour or flour. (this will be used to put the chicken pieces on, once they are coated.
5. Now you need to set up a mini production line, egg dish, then flour dish, then the plate / baking tray. (see photo below).
6. Coat the pieces of chicken in egg, then in the flour, pushing the flour all over, making sure it sticks to the meat. Repeat egg & flour coat one more time then place on the plate / baking tray, making sure not to overlap the chicken on the plate. Make sure your plate is well floured otherwise the meat will stick to the plate and all your coating will come off!
Cooking the meat
1. Heat the oil. Test the temperature by putting a little bit of the flour in. If it sizzles to the top, it’s hot enough.
2. Place the pieces of chicken in the oil, turn after a few minutes or when light golden brown, and do the same on the other side. Remove onto kitchen paper when done (see below photos). Take care not to overlap the chicken pieces in the tray. You may have to cook the chicken in batches if you are using a small pan.
Bringing the recipe together
This process will only take 5-10 minutes so start it just before you are ready to eat. You don’t want this dish to sit around too long as the chicken will loose it’s crispiness.
1. Heat up the sauce from earlier until starting to bubble, stir to avoid lumps.
2. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to your wok and heat on a high temperature.
3. Add ginger and mix into the oil.
4. Add all the other ingredients from your prepared vegetable plate EXCEPT the scallions / spring onions (they will go slimy & soft if you cook them now). Stir fry all ingredients until semi soft. You can test a pepper yourself to see if it is to your preference.
5. Add the chicken pieces and stir / mix into the vegetable. Make sure your wok is on the highest heat possible. Take care not to damage the coating when you are mixing it all together.
I find it easiest to use chopsticks in one hand and a wide spatula in the other to turn and toss the food in a wok, however, 2 spatulas will work too if you aren’t confident with the chopsticks!
6. Add the heated sauce into the stir fry and mix well so that all the chicken, vegetables are coated with the sauce.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the scallions / spring onions over your creation.
8. Serve with a lovely bowl of hot Fragrant Jasmine Rice and give yourself ONE HUGE PAT ON THE BACK for making one of the most popular Cantonese dishes in the world!
We’d love to hear from you and what you thought of our post. Did you make any changes or add some other goodies? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy cooking!
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