Sweet and Sour Chicken Made Easy: A Flavor-Packed Dish
Sweet and sour chicken is a popular Chinese dish that has found its way into the hearts (and kitchens) of people all around the world. Tender pieces of chicken coated in a tangy, sticky sauce — it’s no wonder that this dish is a favorite among families and busy cooks alike. This recipe is simple to make, packed with flavor, and will surely become a go-to in your cooking repertoire.
When you make sweet and sour chicken, the first step is to gather your ingredients. For this recipe, you’ll need the following:
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- Cooked white rice, to serve
To make the most delicious sweet and sour chicken, follow this simple step-by-step process:
- Begin by coating the chicken cubes with cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the coated chicken and cook until browned, turning occasionally. Once cooked, transfer the chicken onto a plate and discard the excess oil from the skillet.
- Next, in the same skillet, whisk together the sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and pineapple juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the pineapple chunks, bell peppers, and chopped onion to the skillet, and let them cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
- Finally, return the cooked chicken to the skillet and stir everything together. Let the dish cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together and the chicken to fully cook through.
Serve this delicious sweet and sour chicken over cooked white rice, and enjoy the perfect balance of tangy and sweet flavors.
History and Curiosities
Sweet and sour chicken is a delightful fusion of Chinese and American culinary influences. The dish has its roots in traditional Chinese cuisine, particularly Cantonese and Jiangsu dishes that make use of sweet and sour flavors. These dishes were adapted to suit Western palettes when Chinese immigrants began opening restaurants in the United States.
South China is predominantly known for its love of sweet and sour flavors. Historically, this particular combination of sweet and tangy ingredients helped to preserve food in a time before refrigeration. Later on, sweet and sour dishes evolved into a delicious, sought-after taste profile that could be enjoyed by those who loved these contrasting flavors.
A curious fact about this dish is that while it is commonly known as Chinese food in most Western countries, it is not as prevalent in China itself. In fact, sweet and sour chicken, as we know it today, is primarily found in the United States and other Western countries.
Sweet and sour chicken has become not only a popular dish in restaurants around the world, but it’s also a true testament to the marriage of different culinary cultures that, together, create a complete and delightful taste experience.