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Sweet And Sour Chicken– Quick & Easy Chinese Recipe

Which takeout store serves the best Chinese sweet and sour chicken?

Unfortunately, you probably won’t find any store.

This is because the best time to eat the sweet and sour chicken is when it is fresh from the wok immediately after deep frying. This moment is when the chicken is crispy, and chicken juice is oozing out each bite, with light and crunchy skin coated with the sweet and sour sauce.

The chicken will become soggy when you reach home from the takeout store, and it loses all the zingy taste you are expecting.

It turns out the best sweet and sour chicken is right in your kitchen. Freshly made, it is insanely delicious.

A quick and simple dish for the whole family

The sweet and sour chicken recipe is the ideal dish for a quick and delicious meal much anticipated by the family. You can serve together with steamed rice as most Asians do, with noodles, bread, or a bowl of salads. It tastes just as good as directly from the Chinese restaurants.

The best of all is that this is a foolproof recipe. You can adjust the amount of chili sauce, plum sauce, and sugar in the recipe freely to what you prefer.

Why is Chinese sweet and sour chicken special?

The origin of sweet and sour chicken was in the 18th century or earlier from China. It spread to the United States in the early 20th century after the Chinese migrant gold miners and railroad workers turned to food and drink as trades. In some countries, the dish is known as Ku lo yuk 咕噜肉. Traditionally, pork is used, but I use boneless chicken breasts in this great recipe as it is more popular and acceptable to all people. You can also use chicken thighs meat if you which is more tender and juicy.

This dish consists of chicken with cornstarch batter into bite-sized pieces and subsequently coated with the sweet and sour sauce that consists of ketchup, chili sauce, plum sauce, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Some versions of Ku lo sauce contain vinegar (eg. apple cider vinegar) instead of plum sauce. The sauce is stir-fried in a large skillet with vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, pineapple, and onion. The deep-fried chicken pieces are then added to the vegetables to stir-fry over medium-high heat briefly to preserve the crispiness.

Quick and easy Sweet and sour chicken recipe

Want to impress your friends and family members? This authentic Sweet and Sour Chicken is the answer! Authentic and delectable Chinese take-out standard dish made right at your home kitchen. You can prepare this recipe in just twenty minutes.

sweet and sour ku lo chicken

The fine points of the sweet and sour chicken recipe

1. Marinate

  • Cut the meat into small pieces, preferably about 1-inch pieces, and keep dry with a paper towel. The shape does not really matter, but small pieces will enable the flavor of the marinade and the sweet and sour sauce penetrate right to the center of the pieces of meat.
  • It is best to marinate the meat for at least for half an hour. The soy sauce will add flavor to the meat and the cornstarchwill give a velvety texture to the meat.

2. Frying

  • Coat the meat with cornstarch for deep frying will ensure the meat is crispy even though after it is doused in the sauce. The meat will be less crisp (soggy) after coating with the sauce if wheat flour (i.e. the normal cake flour / pastry flour) is used.
  • The meat pieces will stick together as cornstarch is quite sticky and gooey. You can use a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spatula to separate the meat pieces in the deep fryer for the first one minute of deep frying. You can also use a large skillet or wok to deep-fry if you do not have a electric deep-fryer.
  • Vegetables such as peanut oil, palm oil and corn oil are all suitable for deep-frying. Place the chciken pieces in the hot oil and stir if lightly in the first minute to prevent the chicken pieces from sitcking together.

3. Choice of ingredients

  • The selection of vegetables – cucumber, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, onion and fresh pineapple chunks is not only multicolor but provides a variety of taste and texture to the dish. It also makes this dish become very balance in nutritional point of view, as it is a complete dish with both protein, carbohydrate and lots of fiber.
  • Cut the cucumber, capsicum, onion and pineapple to different shapes will greatly enhance the presentation of the dish.
Sweet sour 5
  • If you use canned pineapple, check sweetness of the pineapple. Some canned pineapples are sweetened that means you need to reduce the amount of sugar you use. You can also use brown sugar for a more caramalized flavor if you use fresh pineapple.
  • You can also add some green onions (scallion) to the dish during the final part of stir-frying. Another item you can use is to add some sesame oil after swiithcing off the heat, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top to serve.

4. The sweet and sour sauce

  • I normally make the sweet and sour sauce in advance, usually in a larger batch. Keep it in separate containers so you only need to take it out from your freezer one portion when required.
  • The amount of sauce you need is a very personal choice. In general, you can use any amount from 25g to 35g of sauce for every 100g of meat that you intend to cook.
  • The three main constituents of the sweet and sour sauce are chili sauce, tomato ketchup (or tamato paste), and plum sauce. You may find that the flavor of these ingredients can vary from one brand with another. The brand I use is as below, but by all means use any brands that you can find at where you live. You may need to adjust the amount to suit your taste buds to the desired sourness, spiciness and sweetness you wish to achieve. Let me know the outcome by putting your comment in the comment box at the bottom of this post.
  • You may also use lime juice instead of lemon juice. There is no fixed formula for this, even though for the most authentic way to prepare it.
  • Cornstarch slurry is not necessary as this sticky sauce is able to coat the chicken piece.

5. How to make the sweet and sour sauce in bulk

The sweet and sour sauce is not only suitable for this chicken recipe. We also use it for sweet and sour pork, sweet and sour tofu, and sweet and sour fish. These recipes have some minor differences, but they are all prepared with the same sauce. Therefore, it is helpful to make a large batch and prepare another dish next time.

The method is straightforward. Place all the ingredients below in a small pot over low heat and wait until they boil. Then remove from heat and let it return to room temperature.

Transfer the sauce to airtight containers that are freezer-safe. This recipe is enough to fill up eight containers. Each portion is meant for cooking one pound of chicken/fish/pork.

The sauce ingredients are:

  • Tomato sauce 420g
  • Chilli sauce 270g
  • Plum sauce 250g
  • Sugar 170g
  • Lemon juice 60g
  • Salt 25g

Method of preparation:

  • Mix all the items together and bring to a boil.

6. The cooking process

  1. Marinate the chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, and egg white for about 30 minutes.
  2. Deep the meat into egg wash and then cornstarch.
  3. Remove the excess cornstarch and deep-fried the meat until it is crispy and golden brown.
  4. Heat up some vegetable oil in a wok. Briefly stir-fry the capsicum, pineapple and onion for a minute.
  5. Add the ingredients of the sweet and sour sauce to the vegetables. Turn to high heat and stir-fry quickly until the sauce is thickened.
  6. Turn off the heat. Add the chicken to the vegetables. Coat the meat with the sauce and serve.

Note:

  • Turn off the heat before coating the meat with the sauce will help preserve the crispiness of the meat. It is best not to continue stir-frying the meat with the sauce, as the meat will lose its crispness rapidly.
  • If you really do not want to make the sauce, but still prefer to prepare the chicken yourself, head to the Asin grocery store to get the store-bought sweet and sour sauce!
Chinese sweet and sour chicken

Lastly, serve immediately while the deep-fried meat is still crispy. Serve with white rice is a better choice than flavored rice or fried rice as Sweet And Sour Chicken is so flavorful!

Yield: 3 portions

Sweet And Sour Chicken - Authentic Chinese Style

Sweet And Sour Chicken - Authentic Chinese Style

Authentic South East Asia recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients A- to marinate

Ingredients B- the vegetables

  • 100 g cucumber
  • 60 g red capsicum
  • 60 g green capsicum
  • 60 g pineapple
  • 100 g onion

Ingredients C- The sweet and sour sauce

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, and egg white for about 30 minutes.
  2. Deep the meat into egg wash and then cornstarch.
  3. Remove the excess cornstarch and deep-fried the meat until it is crispy and golden brown.
  4. Heat up some vegetable oil in a wok. Briefly stir-fry the capsicum, pineapple and onion for a minute.
  5. Add the ingredients of the sweet and sour sauce to the vegetables. Turn to high heat and stir-fry quickly until the sauce is thickened.
  6. Turn off the heat. Add the chicken to the vegetables. Coat the meat with the sauce and serve.

Notes

If you encounter any audio / visual problem of viewing this video, you can view it from YouTube by clicking this link, which will open in a new tab.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

2 servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 734Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 255mgSodium: 3262mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 3gSugar: 31gProtein: 100g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/21/2019

Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry – The Defined Dish

Friday 14th of December 2018

[…] workers turned to cookery as trades. In some countries, the dish is known as Ku lo yuk. (Source: Taste Asian Food) Traditionally, pork is used, but to keep things more simple I’ve used chicken here. […]

Lim Kian Hin

Sunday 11th of June 2017

Thank You Mr Kwan for your Direction.

KP Kwan

Saturday 17th of June 2017

You are welcome.

Lim Kian Hin

Monday 5th of June 2017

Mr Kwan.

If we prefer to have the sweet sour sauce as a dipping one separate.

As it is ...is way too thick . Is there a formula recipe for dipping sauce. Please advise.

THANKS. Sunny.

KP Kwan

Wednesday 7th of June 2017

Hi Sunny, The sauce is supposed to use it to coat the chicken during cooking and hence is so thick. You can add some water to it and bring it to a boil to use it as a dipping sauce.

Thanks,

KP Kwan

Lim Kian Hin

Monday 10th of April 2017

Dear Mr Kwan.

Thus is Sunny Lim. I had tried this dish and had encountered this matter.

I did dusted the flour after I had dip into the egg but after deep fried there are quite a fair share on White spots of flour on my chicken after frying.

I did make effort to remove dusted flour before frying. What can be the reasons.

I do not has a cooking termometer but I had make effort to observe that my oil was hot too. And my duration of frying was monitored too.

Need your direction on above.

Thanks Mr Kwan.

KP Kwan

Monday 10th of April 2017

Hi Sunny, I am trying to visualize how the problem is. Try to dip into the egg, then flour then shakes off the excess. Deep fry immediately before the surface is getting wet again due to the flour being absorbed by the eggs. Hope this is the reason, and this works.

Thanks.

KP Kwan

Mongolian beef recipe- How to cook in 5 simple steps

Tuesday 14th of February 2017

[…] (薑葱牛肉), Mongolian beef (蒙古牛肉), General Tso’s chicken (左宗棠雞) and Sweet and sour chicken (咕嚕肉). They are all stir-frying dishes. In a nutshell, Mongolian beef is sweeter than […]

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