I love quick food, so there is not surprise that I live anything that can be cooked in a wok. The prep work may be a bit long, since they use a long list of ingredients, but for the most part, that is the only thing you need to do, then it’s just a matter of firing up that wok and step by step you pile on the good stuff and end up with this:
Oh yes, it did taste as good as it looks.
The Gutsy Cook Club menu for this week went Asian and you can read my weekly pre-cap. But, since Tom, the little man and I were headed to Miami for the weekend to visit some friends of ours and eat our weight in latin food; I decided to make only one of the three options for our Thursday dinner. And the little man loves pineapples with ANYTHING, so there was really no other contender but the Sweet and Sour Chicken.
As always, I adapted, added, took out – you know the drill. The original recipe calls for only scallions, red peppers and pineapples as the “vegetable” component of the dish. I added carrots, red onions and bok choy because when I went to our local Mexican market, I just could not pass them up - To prove my point, look at them! And the price was a steal.
Don’t they look pretty and green and like they were shouting COOK ME NOW? And I listen to my inner voice ALL THE TIME.
SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN
adapted from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup lager beer
FOR THE SAUCE
- ½ cup chicken stock
- left over pineapple juice from the pineapple
- ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon of chili sauce
- 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
- 1 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoons cold water
FOR THE CHICKEN
- 4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts cut into thin pieces
- 1 -2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted cashew nuts or whole blanched almonds
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- ½ read onion, sliced and soaked in water with a 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 bok choy head, roughly cut up
- 8 scallions cut into long lengths pieces
- ½ cup cubed fresh or drained canned pineapple (save the juice for the sauce!)
Prepare ahead: Steps 1 thru 4 can be completed several hours in advance.
- To make the batter, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add ½ cup of the beer, and whisk, gradually adding the remaining beer. Let stand for 30 minutes. TIP: if you don’t have beer, you can substitute with ½ cup of water.
- Cut the chicken breast into bite-size pieces and marinate with 1 to 2 tablespoon of soy sauce, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- To make the sauce, stir the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until just thickened. Set aside.
- Peel and slice the read onions and cover in water with about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Put aside.
- Fill a wok halfway with oil. Heat to 350°F (180°C). Place the flour in a bowl. In batches, toss the chicken in the flour, then coat in the batter (shake off the extra batter before frying) and add to the hot oil. Deep-fry about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. If you are making this ahead of time, you can keep warm in the pre-heated oven.
- Pour all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok and return to high heat. Add the cashews and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to the baking sheet. Add the red pepper and carrots to the oil and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add the scallions and red onions (that you have drained out of the sugar water), then add the bok choy and pineapple and stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Pour the sauce into the wok, add the chicken and stir until coated. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the cashews, and serve hot.
I served it with coconut rice.
We all had seconds. The only thing I would change for the next time (because, oh yes there will be a next time) is to make more sweet and sour sauce. The final product was excellent but the only thing that we could complain about it was that there was not enough sauce. Tom finished it off the following day as his lunch.
The best part of this dish, as with any other Asian dish, you can pretty much add any seasonable vegetable, change the protein seafood? Pork? They will all work on this.