Sweet and Sour Chicken

I’m very happy to have found yet another “take-out fake-out” recipe!  Sweet and Sour Chicken is another one of my Chinese buffet favorites, but I usually only get a few pieces since it’s deep fried and the sauce, while yummy, is full of sugar.  This version is loaded with peppers and pineapple, something the restaurant version is usually lacking, and instead of deep frying the chicken, it sits in a cornstarch and egg white mixture for 15 minutes and is cooked quickly in a bit of canola oil.  Of course, the best part is that we all enjoyed this!  I picked out the peppers, the toddler man picked out the pineapple, and the husband happily accepted our cast offs.  I will most certainly make this again soon!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 egg white
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks (I used chicken breasts)
One (10 oz) can pineapple chunks (reserve the juice)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 to 3 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 2)
2 Tbsp high heat cooking oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks

In a bowl, whisk together the egg white, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat evenly.  Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

In the meantime, whisk together 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, ginger, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt.

Set a wok or large saute pan over high heat.  When a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates, pour in 1 Tbsp of the oil and swirl to coat.  Add the red and yellow bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the wok onto a plate.  Wipe the wok or pan dry.

Return the wok to the stove on high heat.  When a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates, pour in the reamining 1 Tbsp of oil and swirl to coat.  Add the chicken, spreading it out in one layer.  Let the chicken fry, untouched, for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned.  Flip and fry the otehr side the same for 1 minute.  The chicken should still be pinkish in the middle.

Add the cooked bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and the pineapple juice mixture.  Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Source:   The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, page 106

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Mongolian Beef

I must be on a major Chinese food kick lately, because this is the second of three “take-out fake-out” recipes I’ve tried in the last week or so (stay tuned for a fabulous sweet and sour chicken recipe later this week!).  I’m a sucker for Chinese take-out, as are the husband and tiny man, and we’ve had more than our fair share since the baby made his debut.  As much as we enjoy that take-out, it’s really not that great for you, and so I’m continually on the lookout for a healthier alternative.  Enter this unbelievably good Mongolian Beef. 

Though I’ve never had the restaurant version of this before, I can imagine this is a much tastier, and most certainly healthier, version.  The sauce had a nice flavor with a good kick from the red pepper flakes, and it took me less than 15 minutes to get on the table.  The husband has already requested that I make this again very, very soon, and I’m sure I can oblige that request!  The only change I made was using sirloin instead of flank steak because that’s what I had, and I also didn’t use the green onions as the ones I bought met an unfortunate demise in my refrigerator (I’ll spare you the details).

Mongolian Beef

1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar (measured, not packed)
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large green onion, sliced thinly

Pat steak slices dry and add to a bowl with corn starch. Toss to ensure all pieces are just coated. Shake off excess corn starch using a strainer.

Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large wok or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Turn the heat to high and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Pour the sauce back into the wok and cook until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Add the green onions (a pinch reserved for garnish), stir, and remove from heat. Plate, top with remaining onions, and serve.

Source:  Confections of a Foodie Bride, orginially from Pink Bites

Bourbon Chicken

I love Chinese food, but I feel so gross after I’ve eaten it.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to make some of our favorites at home in much healthier manner.  This recipe for Bourbon Chicken was the answer for healthy Chinese food at home for a fraction of the cost and calories!  I’ve been making this for quite a few years now, and it usually makes our menu at least once a month.  Even the toddler enjoys this (although I’ve tamed the spice a bit for him).  It tastes so much better than the stuff you get in the mall food court or your local take-out place.  Give this a try!

Bourbon Chicken

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch 

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add chicken and cook until lightly browned.  Remove chicken.  Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium until well dissolved.  Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve over hot rice and enjoy.

Source:  Adapted from Recipezaar