My family loves Sweet and Sour Chicken but I’m in many cases I’m less enthusiastic. I crave a healthier sweet and sour chicken recipe. The almost fluorescent colour of most sweet and sour sauces really worries me as does the long, generally unpronounceable ingredient list. I also find the flavour way too intense.
I read recently that the food served in most Chinese restaurants, particularly take out venues, is a long way from the food actually eaten in Chinese homes. So I did a bit of research into the actual flavours in traditional sweet and sour dishes and developed a milder but still incredibly flavourful version that is much better for you than store bought. While it’s definitely a westernised version of the dish, it still tastes authentic.
A few tips:-
Baking the chicken gives it a moist texture and a lovely rich flavour. Just be sure to pop it into the stir fry at the very last minute so your healthier sweet and sour chicken doesn’t over cook.
It’s easy to keep root ginger on hand. Peel it immediately after purchase and pop it in the freezer. You can then grate it into the stir fry straight from frozen. However if you don’t have root ginger on hand you can always use half a teaspoon of dried ginger.
This recipe may take a bit more effort than your average stir fry but it’s still very straight forward. Preparation only takes about thirty minutes if you get everything ready before you start cooking.
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons oil
- (sesame oil is lovely here but any vegetable oil suitable for frying is fine)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- ¾ cup cashews
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
- 1 cup baby corn
- 1 cup snow peas
- ½ cup sliced scallions (spring onions)
- Preheat the oven to 375℉ or 190℃.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and brush with a bit of the oil.
- Mix the flour, paprika and pepper together in a large bowl or ziplock bag.
- Dredge the chicken breasts in this mixture.
- Lay the chicken on the foil lined baking sheet and bake without turning for 25 to 30 minutes or until no pink remains inside.
- Meanwhile, about fifteen minutes before the chicken is done, cook the rice in boiling water according to package directions.
- Mix together the jam, cider vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium to high heat. Stir fry the carrots, peppers and baby corn for three to five minutes.
- When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, carefully slice it into bite size pieces. Set aside and keep warm.
- Drain the rice when it is cooked. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
- Add the snow peas and scallions to the vegetable mixture in the frying pan or wok and stir fry for a further three minutes.
- Add the cooked chicken and the sauce and stir to warm through.
- Serve on a bed of rice.
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