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Sweet & Sour Chicken

October 23, 2008

When I was younger my grandfather had a brief stint working as a Chinese food delivery man for one of his odd jobs.  I used to tag along with him on deliveries, spending the day with him waiting in the car for a call to come in, or when I wasn’t with him, looking forward to him bringing home that quintessential white takeout box filled with steamy beef broccoli or sesame chicken for dinner.  Some of my most fondest memories of childhood is riding in our big blue van hunting down street names with my grandfather on his delivery rounds.  The job didn’t last too long but the memories still do.

Chinese takeout, for me, is in a category of its own.  My family almost never eats Chinese takeout in the original sense which involves picking up the phone on a lazy weeknight and ordering through a menu with numbers and letters.  When we do have Chinese takeout it’s usually at a buffet or when we’re away from home with no access to “real food.”  I always feel guilty eating Chinese takeout, so I usually only limit myself to eating it at the mall or occasionally a couple of times a year.  It’s still one of my favorite guilty indulgences, as strange as that may sound.

I’ve always wanted to replicate the lively flavors and textures of the beloved mall food but could never quite get it right.  Some recipes yielded flat flavors, strange textures, or even some odd combination of the two.  I think this is the closest I’ve come — while probably not very authentic, it’ll certainly curb any craving for one of your more guilty culinary treats.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sweet & Sour Chicken, from Taste & Tell

Ingredients

For the chicken:
3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

For the sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions

1.  Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish.

2.  Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.

3.  Bake for one hour at 325 degrees F. Turn chicken every fifteen minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced — about 6 to 8 minutes.

Notes

The homemade process of this recipe produces more meaty morsels of chicken rather than an almost fifty-fifty ratio of batter and meat found in the takeout version — so I feel less guilty eating more of it.  I would definitley suggest making a second batch of the sauce to pour overtop the chicken as it adds more flavor, provides extra moisture, and better coats the rice.  The flavor of the chicken is very much similar to that found in most takeout versions so it serves as a better and slightly more healthy substitute.  Enjoy with a cold glass of Sprite for that true takeout-feel 🙂

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2008 1:28 PM

    Yum, this looks really great! I always love making Chinese recipes at home, though I agree with you that sometimes it’s so hard to replicate the restaurant version. I’ll definitely give this a try!

    I really like your blog! I started blogging fairly recently myself and have been having a lot of fun with it, too 🙂

  2. October 24, 2008 2:11 PM

    your photos are beautiful, and your writing has a nice, personal-able voice (which is essential for recipe blogs, imo). i look forward to reading more!

  3. lauren permalink
    October 24, 2008 2:19 PM

    Wow that looks great and very easy. The sauce can easily be doctored up too…I’m thinking a little star anise, red chili…I will definitely try my hand at this recipe soon! Thank you for posting.

  4. October 24, 2008 3:07 PM

    that looks delicious. I somehow don’t feel guilty. The first time I visited DC, I had Panda Express’s Orange chicken: brings back great memories.

  5. October 24, 2008 4:41 PM

    I clicked over to you from Food Gawker, and was happy to see it was a recipe I posted! I actually got it from another food blogger, but I know so many people who have tried this now and loved it. I’m so glad to hear it worked out for you!

  6. October 25, 2008 10:01 AM

    Sweet & Sour is one of my favourite takeaway dishes. I’ll certainly have to give this a try, it’ looks gorgeous.

  7. pat permalink
    October 25, 2008 8:00 PM

    Made this for dinner tonight…….outstanding! It’s a keeper for sure.

  8. inkyquills permalink*
    October 28, 2008 12:22 PM

    Carrie — thanks for visiting my blog! I’m glad we share a mutual love of homemade Chinese food 🙂 Good luck with the recipe — tell me how it goes!

    Ila — thanks for the compliments and for reading my blog! I really appreciate it 🙂

    Lauren — Star anise and red pepper flakes to the sauce sounds WONDERFUL! Definitely add a rich spiciness to the sauce. It can be sweet, sour AND spicy! Tell me how it goes — thanks for reading!

    Olga — I love Panda Express! I try not to eat it too often but whenever I do it’s a treat. Thanks for reading!

    Deborah — thanks for the wonderful recipe and for reading my blog!

    Jules — Sweet & Sour chicken (along with sesame, orange, General Tso’s — they all kind of taste similar) are my favorite along with beef broccoli and fried rice! Good luck with the recipe and thanks for reading 🙂

    Pat — I’m glad to hear it turned out so well! I definitely plan to make this again in the future too. Thanks for reading!

  9. October 29, 2008 2:45 PM

    I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious. I would say it is even better than the one we get from the local Chinese takeaway!

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