Delicious sweet and sour chicken that tastes just like your favourite Chinese restaurant. Crispy chicken, vegetables and pineapple chunks coated in a tangy and sweet sticky sauce.
Sweet and sour chicken is a classic menu item found at Chinese restaurants across the world. Chinese food was one of my favourites growing up, but I had never ordered sweet and sour chicken. It was my uncle’s family who introduced it to me, and I have been a fan ever since. In fact, they loved it so much that my aunt used to make it regularly at their place and this recipe I am sharing below is adapted from the recipe she shared with me.
How to make sweet and sour chicken:
- Start off with cutting boneless chicken into cubes (around 2 cm / 1 inch big). The cubes should not be too big, else the chicken won’t cook through properly. I prefer chicken breast, but chicken thigh can also be used.
- Start off with seasoning the chicken, coating it in egg and then cornflour. I prefer to add ginger garlic paste along with soy sauce for an added burst of flavour. The traditional technique is to deep fry the chicken till golden, but it can also be air fried or shallow fried.
- In the meanwhile, open up a can of pineapples or if you are lucky enough to have fresh available, use them. There are restaurants out there that don’t use pineapple in their sweet and sour chicken, but I just feel that there’s something missing in those recipes. Using pineapple (even if it’s canned) adds a hint of freshness, and the right amount of tartness and sweetness needed for the recipe.
- Start with heating a large frying pan and sautéing fresh ginger and garlic. Add the vegetables, followed by the sauce and then the chicken. Toss it together, taste and adjust seasonings and serve with steamed rice.
Some other Asian inspired recipes that you can try are:
- Chicken and Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Fish and vegetable stir fry
- Sesame Chilli Chicken
- Singaporean Rice
- Hot garlic fried rice
Sweet and Sour Chicken
For the chicken:
- 1/2 kg boneless chicken breast or thigh, cubed
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 1 egg
- ½ cup cornflour use more if required
- Oil as needed
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup / tomato sauce
- ½ cup pineapple juice use the juice from the canned pineapple
- Salt to taste
For the vegetables:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger sliced
- 1 medium onion, cubed
- ½ medium red capsicum, cubed Green capsicum can be used if not available
- ½ medium green capsicum, cubed
- ½ cup pineapple pieces can be fresh or canned
- Spring onion sliced, for garnish
For the chicken:
Place the cubed chicken in a bowl.
Add ginger paste, garlic paste, soy sauce, vinegar, salt and an egg. Leave to marinate for about 10 minutes, and then add the cornflour Mix it well.
For deep frying: Heat oil in a large wok or shallow frying pan. Once the oil is hot enough add the chicken and cook on medium heat till golden brown and crispy. Don’t crowd the pan, cooking in batches as needed. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel. Set aside.
For shallow frying: Heat 1 – 2 tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the chicken and cook on low – medium heat till golden brown. Use a tong to turn the chicken pieces around so that they can crisp up on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan, and cook in batches as needed. Remove onto a kitchen towel and set aside.
For air frying: Cut out a piece of baking paper / aluminium foil that will fit the tray of the air fryer that you are using. The chicken pieces can be placed on the grill directly, but this makes for easy clean up. Spray with oil, and place the chicken pieces on the foil / baking paper. Spray with oil again, then place in a pre-heated air fryer. Cook at 180 C for about 10 - 15 minutes, turning once after 5 – 8 minutes till golden brown and crispy. Don’t crowd the air fryer, and cook in batches as needed. Set aside.
For the sauce:
Place soy sauce, vinegar, red chili flakes, brown sugar, tomato ketchup / tomato sauce along with pineapple juice in a small jug or bowl. Stir together to dissolve the sugar, and set aside. This amount of sauce will result in a sauce that just coats the chicken and vegetables.
If gravy is preferred add 1 – 1 ½ cups of water with extra salt and red chili flakes to balance the additional liquid.
For the vegetables:
Finely chop the garlic and slice the ginger. Cut the onions, capsicum and pineapple into medium sized cubes (about 1.5 cm each). They should all be cut about the same size so that they cook at the same time.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a deep wok or shallow frying pan. Add sliced ginger and garlic and saute till they turn light brown.
Add the chopped vegetables, starting off with the onions, then add both types of capsicum and then the pineapples. Add the sauce followed by the crispy chicken. Cook for a few minutes till the mixture comes to a boil and the chicken is warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.
Dissolve the cornflour in water and add it to the chicken to thicken the sauce.
Garnish with sliced spring onions and serve hot with steamed rice.