One of my favorite guilty pleasures is Chinese take-out. I basically love it all…sesame chicken, beef and broccoli, spring rolls, egg rolls, fried rice, and any kind of noodles. But we all know how much fat, salt, and sugar comes along with most Chinese take-out, not to mention MSG, and my body always confirms this: every time I eat it, I feel like I’m in serious need of a nap afterwards. It’s just not worth it.
But I’m all about making my favorite Chinese take dishes at home. Not only is the end result much healthier because you get to control how much fat, sugar, and salt goes into the dish, but you can customize it to suit your own tastes. For example, if you like things spicy, add more hot sauce; if you eat vegetarian, use tofu or another vegetarian substitute for chicken.
When I saw Sweet and Sour Chicken on the May cover of Cooking Light magazine, I immediately started doing a mental check to see what I’d need to pick up from the grocery store because I couldn’t wait to make it. With the bold flavors of ingredients like mirin (sweet rice wine), powdered peanut butter, Sriracha, plum sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, I knew this dish was going to be flavorful. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine) or 1/4 cup dry sherry mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders, cut into (2-inch) pieces
1/4 cup powdered peanut butter
3 tablespoons quick-mixing flour (such as Wondra)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons Sriracha
1 tablespoon plum sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (8.8-ounce) package precooked white rice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1. Combine mirin and egg in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken; toss to coat. Let stand 5 minutes; drain well.
2. Combine powdered peanut butter and next 3 ingredients (through sugar) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken; toss well to coat. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
3. Heat pan over high heat. Add onions and bell pepper; stir-fry 1 minute. Combine 5 tablespoons water and next 4 ingredients (through Worcestershire) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken and ketchup mixture to pan; cook 1 minute, tossing to coat.
4. Divide rice among 4 plates; top with chicken mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro leaves and sesame seeds.
• I added a green bell pepper along with the red bell pepper.
• Instead of plum sauce, I used sweet chili sauce.
• I added 1 teaspoon soy sauce along with the Worcestershire sauce.
• I used fresh parsley instead of fresh cilantro.Nutritional Information per serving:
Calories per serving: 474
Fat per serving: 16.6g
Saturated Fat per serving: 1.8g
Sodium per serving: 523g
Fiber per serving: 3g
Protein per serving: 31g
Cholesterol per serving: 77mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 50g
This is a delicious, family-friendly meal that everyone enjoyed. (But take note that if you’re making it for young kids, you might want to decrease the amount of Sriracha so it isn’t too spicy hot for the little ones.) The only flavor I thought the dish was lacking was a bit of tartness – because it is Sweet and Sour Chicken! When I make it again I will add a splash of rice wine vinegar along with the ketchup to up the tart factor and balance the flavors.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Definitely! I am always looking for new Chinese dishes to make at home, and the fact that this one comes together so quickly is a total bonus. Instead of reaching for the take-out menu, this dish is perfect for a quick, tasty dinner.