Sweet Mandarin Cookbook
This dish is renowned all over the world. There is an age-old debate about
whether sweet and sour is an authentic Chinese dish or whether it was
created to cater for Western palates. In fact, Sweet and Sour Pork originates from the 18th century and was the definitive dish used to test the skills of chefs. In the Guangzhou region, Sweet and Sour Pork is very popular – note its original name was simply Vinegar and Sugar Pork (tang cu lǐjǐ). You could say that Sweet and Sour Chicken is its distant relation, although it is slightly sweeter in taste.
This recipe was handed down from our dad, whom we used to call The
General Tse because he was always giving out orders. This version consists of light, crispy chicken balls tossed in a perfectly balanced sauce, however you could stir-fry the chicken and vegetables together for a healthier dish.
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Marinating the chicken with salt, sugar and
potato starch stops it becoming rubbery.
Poaching the chicken first, before stir-frying,
ensures it stays moist and doesn’t dry out.
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You Will Need
Put the chicken in a bowl. Add the salt, sugar, potato starch and the water and combine well. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set aside to marinate in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a wok with approx. 150ml oil and preheat over a medium heat to 180°C. Test the temperature with a bamboo chopstick (see page 35). Remove the chicken from the fridge and dip each piece into potato starch to coat it on all sides. Deep-fry the chicken in the hot oil for 5–6 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Pour off the oil from the wok into a metal container; this can be reused for cooking.
To make the sauce, return the wok to the heat, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and stir-fry the peppers, onion and pineapple over a high heat for 3 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Don’t overcook the sauce or it will caramelise and turn black.
Add the cooked pieces of chicken to the bubbling sauce and toss well to coat. Serve with egg-fried rice.