Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food, from the deep-fried Americanized version you'll find in a food court, to authentic recipes passed down by generations of Chinese grandmothers. My childhood favorite was always sweet and sour chicken so it was the first Chinese food I ever attempted to cook from scratch, starting with this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I don't know how authentic the recipe is, but The Joy of Cooking is an eternal classic, so it's always a good place to start in my opinion.

This sweet and sour chicken turns out a little more on the sweet side if you use the whole 1/3 c. sugar. I don't like things terribly sweet, so I usually use less. I used red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper since that's what I had on hand, using the full 1/2 teaspoon. I always serve it over brown rice, but I'm sure it would be delicious with chow mein noodles as well.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

from The Joy of Cooking

makes 4 to 6 servings

Although I made this recipe using chicken it is also very well-suited to be pork and can easily be made vegan by substituting 1.5 pounds of firm diced tofu for the meat, vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and margarine or oil for the butter.

Mix together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and set aside:
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. cornstarch

Melt in a large skillet or pot over medium-low heat:
2 T. butter

Stir in:
1 large onion, diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, diced
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/4 to 1/2 t. ground red pepper

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add:
One 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, with their juice
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. distilled white or cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar

Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture (you'll want to stir it up again). raise heat to high and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add:
3 to 4 c. diced cooked pork, chicken, turkey, or tofu

Return to a simmer, then turn the heat down as low as possible and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over rice or chow mein noodles.

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