Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Too much sour, not enough sweet

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken
Fry Light, Fry Right! Copyright 2004

½ c. unbleached or all-purpose flour
½ c. cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
1 lb. chicken tenders, tendons removed, cut into bite-sized pieces and patted dry with paper towels
1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks in juice (do not drain)
2/3 c. Heinz chili sauce
2/3 c. red currant jelly
1 c. celery hearts, sliced crosswise I just used the bottom part of regular celery - I'm not sure if that's the same or not
1 green pepper, stemmed, seeded, quartered, and sliced into ¼-inch-thick strips (about 1 ¼ c.)
1 tbsp. canola oil
Canola cooking spray

1. In a medium-sized shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Stir with a fork to blend well; set aside.
2. Place the egg and water in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add the chicken pieces, stir, and set aside.
3. Place a large saucepan over high heat and add the pineapple chunks (including juice), chili sauce, jelly, celery, and green pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
4. While the sweet-and-sour sauce is simmering, place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and spread evenly with a spatula.
5. Use a slotted spoon to remove about a third of the chicken pieces from the egg mixture (letting the excess drain off) and transfer to the flour mixture. Turn the pieces in the flour mixture to coat well, then carefully and quickly place the flour-coated chicken pieces in the hot oil in the pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Let the chicken pieces brown for about 4 minutes.
6. As the chicken browns on the bottom, generously coat the tops with canola cooking spray. Use a spatula to flip the chicken pieces to brown the other side, breaking the pieces apart from each other, if necessary. When the chicken in cooked through (about 3 more minutes), remove to the simmering sweet-and-sour sauce. I finished cooking the chicken in the oven, just to be sure it was cooked through. I didn't add the chicken to the sauce. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 1-2 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat and serve over steamed rice.

I was semi-pleased with this. I loved the chicken. It was plain but it reminded me of the frozen chicken tenders I buy for my son, that I make for his lunch. (I've been wanting to freeze up a batch of homemade tenders for him but I never get around to it.) I do think it was comparable to the deep fried chicken usually served with sweet and sour sauce. No, not the same, but a really good substitute.

The sauce seemed kind of pungent, not as sweet and smooth as the sweet and sour sauce I'm used to. Adding the chicken to it may have rounded it out, but I wasn't sure that would happen and I wasn't completely sure if this was something my husband would like so I left the sauce separate. Both my husband and I poured it over top of the chicken and my son ate his plain. The sauce wasn't bad, just not something I wanted the chicken swimming in.

This had plenty of peppers and celery and tomato from the chili sauce so this is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays this week.

A Blast From The Past: Stir-Fried Chicken with Chinese Cabbage from January 2006. I haven't cooked from my Food and Wine cookbooks in a while. Those are great cookbooks.

Question of the Day: Do you make 'Chinese' food at home?


Annie said...

Not really. I don't have all the rice vinegars and sauces that it would require.

The closest I ever came to making chinese food was with leftover chicken and veggies; I just make a teriyaki concoction. It was good though!

Unknown said...

I don't make it that often. Really the only thing I do is stir fry. I need to make it soon...YUM!

Anonymous said...

Occasionally a stir-fry or fried rice. It's good, but definitely not the real thing. Nothing beats a Chinese buffet!


DancesInGarden said...

About once a year I go all out and make the entire "chinese takeout" meal. Fried rice, steamed rice, egg rolls and spring rolls, wonton soup, egg foo yong, sweet and sour pork hong kong style (a lighter breading and I use well trimmed pork loin), chicken subgum. Mushrooms and onions in oyster sauce (sometimes with broccoli), "silver sprouts" - bean sprouts that have been topped and tailed, and quickly stir fried at a high heat just to warm them, then add a drop of sesame oil. Sometimes cantonese chow mein as well.

If I want more authentic I delve into sezchuan dishes, and the salted black beans LOL.

The hardest part is making so many dishes without an actual wok and so that they are all done and hot at the same time. I haven't figured that part out yet.

Other than that, I make quick stir fries for myself. DH and DD don't eat that.

Wanda said...

The same thing that Jan said. When the kids were still at home, we used to make eggrolls sometimes. We'd have an assembly line going - chopping, mixing, cooking, loading, rolling, etc. They were DELICIOUS!