Yesterday I decided to treat myself and drove through the only Chinese food place we have here in Country Town U.S.A. Boy was I disappointed! Don’t get me wrong I love my small town life. Living life in a small country town is full of so many perks, but one major draw back is finding good…really good…Chinese food!
We have two choices when it comes to fulfilling Chinese cravings…One, a major national chain which is hit or miss some days, like yesterday when my fortune cookie had no fortune! (Say What?!!! I mean seriously I deserve my future happiness told to me by a piece of paper in a cookie if I’m buying!) The other is a “Hong Kong Buffet”! Truthfully I’d be insulted if I lived in Hong Kong to have such a place named after my country! (Scary! Nuff said!) This sad tale of woe, sniff-sniff, led to the “great sweet and sour chicken” hunt of 2012! Eureka! I struck “gold”…well…more or less! (In case you are wondering…It was followed by the marvelous walnut shrimp hunt of 2013! That’s a story for another day!)
I stumbled upon this amazing recipe in 2012 and I’ve been making it ever since. It is a family favorite! In fact my Chinese food has become one of our middle child’s favorites. The key to making really great Chinese food is all about the “prep” work. In fact it is crucial to your overall success.
That being said…First make the sweet and sour sauce and saute the veggie’s to go with the chicken. To make the sweet and sour sauce, drain your pineapple reserving the juice. I usually pour mine into a strainer over a bowl and let it sit while I get the rice going. After your pineapple is well-drained in a sauce pan combine the water, sugar, vinegar, and the reserved pineapple juice, plus orange food coloring (If you don’t have orange…red + yellow makes orange. One drop of each should do ya!). Heat to boiling. Turn off the heat. Combine the cornstarch and another 1/4 cup water, slowly stir into the sauce pan with the other ingredients. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.
Tip: I only add about half the vinegar called for in the recipe and taste test it. If it isn’t sour enough I add a little more. You can always add more, but you can’t “un-sour” it once you’ve dumped the vinegar in.
Next in a small skillet saute the veggies until slightly tender crispy. Cool and set off to the side.
Cut your chicken breast into nice bite sized chunks.
It’s tempura time. In my opinion this is one of the BEST homemade tempura batters ever in the history of homemade tempura. In a large bowl combine the self-rising flour, oil, cornstarch, salt, white pepper (I use black, little flecks don’t bother me. It’s a personal choice.), and egg. Blend. Add 1 1/2 cups icy cold water gradually to make a batter that is about the same consistency of pancake batter. I use all the water in my batter. Just a FYI. You don’t want it super thick and you don’t want it really runny. Some where in the middle is perfect. Add chicken pieces to the batter, a few at a time, till well coated. Lift out with a fork and place into a sauce pan filled with about 4-5 inches of cooking oil. (I use vegetable oil). Fry chicken in hot oil until golden, flipping and turning half way through cooking process, then remove and place on paper towels to drain.
Tip: Always use the self-rising flour! The elements of self-rising flour, corn starch, and icy cold water combine and is what makes this a light, fluffy, crispy tempura batter.
I place an oblong cake rack on my cookie sheet and transfer the cooked drained pieces onto the rack and keep them in the oven set on a low temperature of about 200 or less. Just enough to keep it all hot. Nothing worse than cold tempura batter chicken. It does take several different batches to get all that chicken cooked, but it stays perfect in the warm oven on top of the cake rack.
Once you have fried all the chicken pieces to golden perfection, place them on a large platter and top with the reserved veggies and sweet and sour sauce. This is better than any sweet and sour chicken you can order in a restaurant! You will love this recipe and be surprised how simple it is to make your own Chinese food. On the other hand you may be grateful you live in the city and can order in. (A dream I’ve always had…to order Chinese for delivery! It’s on the bucket list!)
I wish I had had this yesterday instead of my “fortuneless” drive-thru lunch! In fact I wish I had it now! lol This recipe doesn’t come with a “fortune” per se, but you will be so “fortunate” to have this for dinner at your Nest! (Come on…cut a girl some slack…how do I pass up a word play like that?!) I served mine with fried rice and I’ll share that recipe with you real soon. I have a really great one and it so super easy to whip up!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope if you are craving sweet and sour you’ll take the time to make this homemade version. I’ve included the printable below! I’m also sharing this recipe on the Friday Weekend Pot Luck. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or e-mail me and I’ll get back to you in a jiffy! I won’t leave you hanging like my cookie left me hanging! (I think I may be a bit bitter about that fortune cookie thing? Hmmmm! lol) What’s your favorite Chinese food dish and do you have a favorite recipe? I’m always looking for more wonderful homemade Chinese dishes!