Sweet and Sour Chicken

 What is it with Chinese food that it's a favourite with a lot of folks? Is it because of the the taste, or the colour or that it's pretty fast to cook once the prep is over? Or is it because, for a lot of us, a change from what we eat most days?
Of course, in Chennai, authentic Chinese food is about as elusive as the proverbial flash in the pan. It smells like the real thing, looks like the real thing but it isn't quite all there.
One recipe that you can't go wrong with is a sweet and sour sauce. This is because there are only a handful of ingredients and the components of the sauce are available in most store cupboards.
This is my version and it tastes quite like the one from the hawker stall near home. I served mine with fried rice.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
450 gm chicken breast, sliced in 1" cubes
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Chinese wine (optional)
1 tsp oil
2 tbsp cornflour
Cornflour for coating
Oil for deep frying

The vegetables

1 onion, cut in wedges
3 cloves garlic, chopped1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in wedges
1/2 capsicum, cut in wedges
1 tomato, cut in wedges or a handful of cherry tomatoes
Coriander leaves for garnish

200 ml chicken stock
4 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt to taste

1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 3 tbsp water  

Mix the egg white, salt, sugar, Chinese wine (if using) and oil. Marinate the chicken in this mixture then add the 2 tablespoons of cornflour. Mix well, keep aside for half an hour. 
Heat a wok, toss the marinated cubes into more cornflour and deep fry in hot oil in batches. Remove onto kitchen towels. When all the chicken pieces have been fried, reheat the oil and put the cubes back into the pan. Toss them around and then remove onto more kitchen towels to drain the oil. This helps to keep the meat crisp.

Fried chicken cubes

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce, keep aside.
Reheat the wok to smoking point, saute onion wedges for about a minute, then the garlic. Stir for a few seconds, then saute cucumber and capsicum pieces.

Now pour in the prepared sauce.
When the sizzle dies down, allow it to come to a boil. Toss in the tomato, thicken the sauce with the cornflour solution and check seasoning.
Put the chicken cubes into the sauce, toss well to mix and then dish out. 
Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve with steamed rice or fried rice.


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