Homemade take-away style sweet and sour chicken. It’s ready in under 20 minutes, so quicker than nipping out the the take-away and it’s lower calorie too.
Whenever we get a Chinese takeaway (which sadly isn’t all that often), we’ll always order pretty much the same thing… chicken chow mein, crispy beef, king prawns with cashew nuts and sweet and sour chicken (plus rice and a big bag of prawn crackers – no Chinese meal is complete without prawn crackers don’t you think?).
Last year I decided to have a go at recreating the chicken chow mein, and now I’ve taken it upon myself to devise a delicious homemade sweet and sour chicken.
The great thing about making your own take-aways at home (or fake-aways as seems to be the popular term the days) is that you know exactly what goes into them. In this case there’s chicken breast and over half your five-a-day in fruit and vegetables (pineapple, peppers and carrot).
I’m not going to lie to you (because you’ll spot it when you get to the ingredients anyway), there’s quite a bit of sugar. I’m not a huge fan of adding that much sugar into a main meal, but I’ve cut it back as much as I could without the recipe turning into just “sour chicken” which really wasn’t that great to eat!
I was very pleasantly surprised when I came to work out the nutrition, as this sweet and sour chicken has only 342 calories a portion (excluding rice) which I think is pretty good, especially when you consider that the take-away version can span anywhere from about 500-800 calories a portion (depending on which websites you believe).
As I said, I cut back the sugar as much as possible, and instead of deep-frying the chicken in batter, it’s simply tossed in cornflour and shallow fried in a little olive oil which gives it a lovely flavour and texture without being too heavy.
One slightly unusual ingredient in this recipe is the tamarind paste. I managed to get hold of some easily at my local supermarket (it amazes me sometimes quite how much I can find in there given I only live in a small town) so you should have no trouble finding it, but if you really can’t find some then you can simply leave it out.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 450 g chicken breast
- 1 tbsp tbsp cornflour - heaped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 medium carrot
For the sweet and sour sauce
- 120 ml apple cider vinegar
- 90 g light brown sugar
- 1 small 227g can pineapple chunks in juice
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- Start by making the sweet and sour sauce. Put all of the sauce ingredients except the cornflour and salt into a medium saucepan (120ml apple cider vinegar, 90g soft light brown sugar, 1 small can pineapple chucks including the juice, 1 tsp tamarind paste, 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree) and cook over a medium heat until it starts to bubble.
- Put the cornflour (1 tbsp) into a cup or small bowl. Spoon a few tbsp of the sauce mixture into the cup and mix until fully combined. Pour this back into the saucepan and stir to combine.
- Leave the sauce to bubble over a low heat for 3-4 minutes until it has thickened slightly. Have a little taste and then season with a pinch of salt if required. Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and leave it in the pan until needed.
- While the sauce is cooking, chop the chicken breast (450g) into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken into a large bowl and sprinkle over the cornflour (1 heaped tbsp). Mix the chicken in the cornflour until it is fully coated.
- Chop the red and green peppers into bite-sized pieces and peel and chop the carrot into chunky matchsticks.
- Put the olive oil (1 tbsp) into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat until sizzling hot (you can tell when this is by adding a couple of drops of water to see if it sizzles). Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Toss the chicken occasionally to ensure it cooks evenly. Add the chopped peppers and carrots and continue to cook for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables have softened slightly.
- Add the sauce to the pan and cook for about a minute until the sauce is hot.
- Serve (I like mine served with rice and prawn crackers and sprinkled with a little spring onion to look pretty!).
Any nutritional information provided is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you would like to learn more about how this is calculated.
Free From/Suitable For…
The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.