Sweet & Sour Chicken
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, from Taste & Tell
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
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.
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 🙂