This sweet and sour dish is not the American takeout version, but this recipe is what I grew up eating in China. It's the real home-style sweet and sour flavor.
No ketchup, no pineapple, only tender meat smothered in a delicious sauce.
SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN RECIPE
Pork is a good substitute for chicken.
12 oz chicken breast
2 Tbsp cornstarch or potato starch
8 to 10 small cubes of crystal sugar ( or 2 Tbsp granulated sugar)
2 large slices of ginger
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch batons. Separate the white and green parts.
2 Tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
2 Tbsp Zhengjiang vinegar
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
Vegetable oil (corn, peanut, canola, soybean)
White pepper powder
Salt to taste
1. Trim the fat off the chicken breast and cut it into 1/8-inch thin slices.
2. Place chicken in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper powder, 2 Tbsp of Shaoxing cooking wine, and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Mix well until the meat is sticky and forms a thin film around the mixing bowl.
3. Add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and toss the meat to prevent the pieces from sticking together.
4. Heat 4 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or a large skillet.
5. When the oil is hot, add the chicken to the wok and sear over high heat. Scoop and fold the chicken while separating each piece. When the chicken is cooked, you can see some golden bits on the edge. Reduce heat to low and remove the chicken and set aside.
6. In the same wok, add 2 slices of ginger and the white part of the scallions, 2 tsp dark soy sauce, 1 Tbsp of light soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sugar or an equal amount of rock sugar, and 2 Tbsp water. Simmer over low heat to extract flavors from the aromatics and dissolve sugar.
7. When the sugar dissolves, turn the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce by half. When the sauce is bubbling, add 2 Tbsp of vinegar (vinegar evaporates quickly, so add this at the last step.)
8. Add the seared chicken to the wok and toss until the meat is evenly covered with sauce. Don't overcook the meat.
9. Garnish with scallion greens. Serve hot.
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