It’s hard to explain the impact our favourite foods as children have on us but food nostalgia is an undeniably powerful emotion. Everyone has at least one meal that reignites those comforting childhood memories and for me, Sweet and Sour chicken is one of those foods. Just the thought of it brings back memories of Chinese restaurants, countless takeaways and my mothers homemade deep fried chicken coated in the unmistakable tangy red sauce.
My love for Chinese’s most retro of dishes hasn’t waned over the years even if the protein involved may have evolved. Don’t get me wrong it’s hard to beat a classic portion of ‘Chicken Balls’ when you’re suffering from a previous evenings intoxication but it’s also nice too swank it up now and again with the likes of a deep-fried monkfish tail. Whichever variant you go for be it Chicken, pork or fish it’s an easy enough dish to make, especially if you have a deep fat fryer. Also don’t be afraid to change the recipe up to suit your own tastes. If you like it more on the sweet side add more sugar, sourer add more vinegar and saltier add more soy sauce.
For the Chicken Coating
Chicken Breasts 4
Sesame Oil 1 Teaspoon
Light Soy Sauce 3 Tablespoons
Sea Salt 2 Teaspoons
Chinese 5 Spice 1 Teaspoons
Sichuan Pepper 1 Tablespoon
Garlic Powder 2 Teaspoons
Ginger Powder 1 Teaspoon
Corn Flour 400g
Vegetable Oil 1 Litre
For the Sauce
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tablespoons
Tomato Ketchup 6 Tablespoons
Pineapple Juice 250ml
1 Chopped Onion
1 Chopped Pepper
Light Soy Sauce 3 Tablespoons
Brown Sugar 1 Tablespoon
1. Start by making the sauce which basically entails placing all the ingredients into a wok and bringing to a simmer. So begin by adding the chopped onion and pepper to a smoking hot wok along with the oil and stir-fry for 1 minute.
2. Next, add the liquid ingredients of the sauce along with the sugar, mix well and bring to a simmer. Take the wok of the heat and set aside while you cook the chicken.
3. To a mixing bowl add the ingredients for the chicken coating and whisk until combined.
4. Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch cubes, place in the bowl and coat. The coating serves two purposes in seasoning and flavouring the chicken and also acting as a glue for the corn flour.
5. The next stage is to deep fry the chicken. First, heat a large saucepan with 1 litre of vegetable oil and slowly bring up to temp. It's probably advisable to use a thermometer at this stage but if you don’t have one you can also wing it by testing the oil with a piece of chicken. If it sizzles aggressively you are good to go, if not give it another few minutes to come up to temperature.
6. Add the cornflour to the chicken and coat well enough that the chicken no longer sticks together.
7. When frying the chicken ensure this is done in small batches. If too much chicken is added at once the temperature of the oil will drop and the chicken will end up extremely greasy. For 1-inch thick chunks of breast, they should take around 5 minutes to cook through. Pop the cooked chicken in the oven at low temp to keep warm.
8. When all the chicken is fried return the sauce to a simmer and add the chicken. Stir well to ensure all the chicken is coated and serve straight away with fried or boiled rice.
Hope you enjoy