Take-out Dining at Home: Chinese Style Sweet and Sour Chicken

Whether it be late night revelers, working people, students or simply those feeling lazy to cook, the soaring popularity of home delivery can be attributed to those hungry fellows. With technology now making ordering even simpler, with just a click of a button rather than long tedious explanations over the phone, home delivery has become an integral part of the food services industry. Even though, recession has led to tightening of belts and the high content of sugar, calories and MSG prevent the health conscious from ordering food from fast food outlets, the popularity of ordering in has not dwindled. According to The Economist, in Britain alone, the takeaway business is a $7.6 billion industry. But there are simply some days where you do not want to stand in front of a hot stove or undertake the laborious drive to the supermarket. Hence, the next best option is ordering from home. The toughest time I have faced while ordering over the phone is from a Chinese restaurant. By and large, the person who answers the phone barely understands English and the chances of getting the order wrong are immense. Hence, I have resorted to faceless transactions via the internet, either through the restaurant’s own website, or a dedicated food delivery website which offers you a host of restaurants to choose from.

Take-out Dining at Home: Chinese Style Sweet and Sour Chicken

It can be termed as guilty pleasure, but the next morning you tend not to feel so good about yourself. With Chinese take-out or delivery, you never know the amount of sugar, MSG or synthetic sauces that have been used. More so, one can never judge the amount of oil the meat has been deep-fried in. All exceeding your daily calorie intake. Hence, it is essential to know how to replicate those dishes using the ingredients of your choice, to turn it into a healthy meal. That is exactly what I did one day when I was craving Chinese food. Instead of ordering in, I decided to create my own version of the ever popular sweet and sour chicken with no MSG and very little oil.

Take-out Dining at Home: Chinese Style Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless chicken
  • 1 tbsp plum sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Chili flakes

Preparation:

  • Cut the chicken into small cubes and place in a bowl. Add  the plum sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and 1 tbsp soy sauce. Mix well to cover the chicken and leave to marinate for 15-20 minutes
  • Meanwhile, chop the onion into quarters, slice the carrots, green beans and red pepper. Set aside
  • To make the sauce, mix the ketchup, pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Cover till required
  • Before cooking the chicken, coat thoroughly with cornflour
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the minced garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes till light brown
  • Add the chicken and lightly fry till it begins to change color to light brown. (Do not over-cook at this stage, as it will cook further once the vegetables are added)
  • Toss in the vegetables and stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes till the chicken turns golden brown and the vegetables begin to soften. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • At this point add the sauce and stir well. Lower the heat and let the dish simmer while covered for 5 minutes
  • If you wish for the sauce to be thicker, add 1 tbsp of cornflour in a little pineapple juice. Mix well and slowly pour it into the dish while it is simmering. This will thicken the sauce
  • Once cooked through, garnish with red chili flakes before serving

Take-out Dining at Home: Chinese Style Sweet and Sour Chicken

A staple order in a Chinese restaurant and now a once a week dish in my house. Serve it with either plain or egg fried rice while enjoying healthy Chinese food. I also enjoy this dish by pouring it over Chinese vegetables in a sort of salad style, that is if you want to omit carbohydrates. It is a delicious dish that is most likely to be popular with children as well and the shallow frying helps to keep the calories down as well. This concoction may be delicious but I have to admit, there are still certain days that I just do not feel like stepping into the kitchen and end up satiating my guilty pleasures. Then again, that is why the take-out industry is so huge.

Take-out Dining at Home: Chinese Style Sweet and Sour Chicken