Monday, 13 June 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

When I did the shopping, it was bright and sunny, another glorious day in a long spring of unexpectedly warm and dry weather. Today, it is absolutely pouring down. So instead of using a classic Nigel June recipe of 'a little roast chicken and leaves' or 'oh it's so hot, let's have a glass of wine and some fruit' or 'oh another one of those dessert-only days', I get out the wok and make the rib-sticking tasty Chinese-British classic. Served with egg-fried rice and an episode of Day Break, it's a great antidote to the miserable weather and a nice treat after a day spent spring-cleaning. I used to make it with brown sugar but I find this method results in a more brightly-coloured sauce, with little detriment to flavour; you can get the umame from the soy sauce in the rice.

  • 1 large or 2 small chicken breasts
  • 1 carrot, and/or 1 red pepper or some baby sweet corn or sugar snap peas, depending on what you have to hand
  • 3 spring onions (you might want to omit them from the rice)
  • 1 tin of pineapple rings
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Drain some of the pineapple juice into a pyrex bowl or jug, and stir in the plain flour. When it is fully suspended with no lumps, add the rest of the pineapple juice, the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, tomato puree and salt. Stir well, then microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through; it should thicken slightly and become glossy.

Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the carrot into diagonal flat pieces, and do the same for the spring onion. Slice the fillet of the chicken into four diagonal pieces, then cut the rest of the breast in half across the fattest part, then slice all of it into further diagonal pieces.

Heat a little sunflower or vegetable oil in a wok until shimmering, then quickly stir fry the chicken, vegetables and spring onions together for a few minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and just beginning to colour. (If you are using a very large quantity of vegetables, you might want to do this in batches, with the chicken separate.) Add in the pineapple chunks and pour over the sauce, allowing it to bubble for one minute, so it slightly reduces. Serve over the rice with the oh-so-traditional fork :)

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