About 20 years ago, my sister-in-law gave my husband a very authentic and very complicated Chinese cookbook. We moved this book through 7 houses and two countries and I never noticed it. The other day, it literally feel into my lap. It explains in great detail the technical side of authentic Chinese cooking. I read through it and am using it for inspiration, as well as to improve my understanding of Chinese cooking.
This recipe is completely inspired by the book’s authenticity and traditional techniques, but with my own added twists and simplified process. The result is a subtle take on sweet and sour chicken that is easy, delicious and takes 20 minutes. It can be eaten simply with rice or used in an appetizer or other main dishes.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 3/4 pound chicken breast
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 spring onion, sliced, to serve
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, to serve
- White rice, to serve
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chinese rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finally minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or finally minced
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
- To make chicken (#1-#5): Pat the chicken dry and cut it into 1-inch squires.
- Place the cornstarch, five-spice, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix together.
- Toss the diced chicken into the cornstarch mixture until thoroughly coated.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan or wok until hot. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Add more oil if needed.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- To make sweet and sour sauce (#6-#9): Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and water in a small bowl, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
- Add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle add garlic and ginger. Stir gently until fragrant, 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat so they will sizzle without browning.
- Add the combined liquids, stir to blend, then raise the heat to bring the mixture to a bubbly simmer, stirring.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine it, and add it to the pan. Stir until the mixture thickens and becomes glossy, about 20 seconds.
- Add the chicken back and cook for another minute until piping hot. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Serve with rice and spring onions.