Sweet and Sour Chicken

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Sweet and Sour Chicken: May 2014

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Sweet and Sour Chicken: May 2014

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

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 15 min

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Tips:

• 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

The results:

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.

Faith Gorsky is the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind the blog Edible Mosaic , and she is the cookbook author of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair (Tuttle Publishing; November 2012). She was born, raised, and spent most of her life in Upstate New York, and she currently lives in Kuwait. When it comes to cooking, her favorite thing to do is go into the kitchen hungry, open the fridge, and start creating. She loves to travel, especially to places steeped in rich culture and history. She also enjoys reading (cookbooks mostly), vintage shopping (especially in old markets), watching movies (of all genres), and is enamored with ancient cultures (especially Rome and Egypt).

8 Responses to “Two- Cheese Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. 1

    Renee @ Awesome on $20 — September 2, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    Yeah, when you said ‘healthy mac & cheese” I was like, there’s no such thing. I’m glad to see that you liked it. I’ll have to give it a try.

  2. 2

    Tieghan — September 2, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

    Oh wow, this looks amazing!! I have never used chicken broth in mac and cheese, but I trust you, so I think I need to make this! Thank you for sharing!

  3. 3

    Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet — September 3, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    I will have to try this lighter version of mac and cheese as my kids are huge fans! Great review, Lori!

  4. 4

    bridget {bake at 350} — September 3, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    Lori…this looks so good! Cream cheese?!? Hello! Love your notes! I always love a little red pepper, too!

  5. 5

    Becky — September 4, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

    Interesting. Since you do not salt the pasta is it salty enough? I’m a big proponent of cooking my pasta in heavily salted water since it flavors the entire outcome of a pasta dish, but I’m guessing the chicken broth stands in for the salted water. So if you make this a 3 serving meal it becomes 716 calories per serving – yikes! I always like to add some dry mustard to my mac n cheese. Especially since this recipe is careful not to use too much cheese, some mustard or red pepper flakes would probably add great flavor!

    • Lori Lange replied: — September 4th, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

      I personally didn’t think so, but I also like to add a good sprinkle of salt to pretty much everything when it is served!

  6. 6

    Jamie — September 9, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    I made this as a side dish and my family loved it, my son and I ate it for a couple days afterwards. When I asked my husband how he liked it his response was “very good, but it can’t be healthy” and I told him it was a lightened up version of mac & cheese, he was surprised. It was very good and I will make this again. Next time I’ll add the red pepper flakes as Lori suggested and maybe some spinach to give it some more nutrients. I also used more garlic than the recipe called for and we thought the garlic was a huge bump to making this so good.

    • Lori Lange replied: — September 10th, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

      Adding spinach sounds like a wonderful idea! Glad you all enjoyed…

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