Makes 3 – 4 servings of sweet and sour chicken, or 4 – 6 as part of a meal
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste
- Cornstarch, as needed
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 1/2 TB rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 TB black rice vinegar
- 3 TB tomato paste
- 4 1/2 TB brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp chile sauce or chili paste, or to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 6 teaspoons water
- 3 – 4 cups peanut or vegetable oil for deep-frying and stir-frying, as needed
- 1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1/2 medium or large onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup baby carrots, chopped in half
- 1/2 green bell pepper, deseeded, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut julienne, optional
Cut the chicken into small (1/2 – 1-inch) cubes. Combine the chicken cubes with the egg, soy sauce, and pepper. Add enough cornstarch to nicely coat the chicken, using cooking chopsticks or your fingers to mix it in.
In a small bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce (the water, two rice vinegars, tomato paste, brown sugar, and chile paste), whisking to mix in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil in a saucepan. Give the cornstarch/water slurry a quick restir and add to the sauce, stirring quickly to thicken. Turn the heat to low and keep warm.
Heat the oil in a wok to between 360 and 365 degrees Fahrenheit (182 – 185 degrees Celsius). (Note: oil can take several minutes to heat to the right temperature, so you may want to start heating it before you begin preparing the other ingredients). Drop the chicken cubes into the hot oil, a few pieces at a time, and deep-fry until crispy (3 to 4 minutes). Remove the chicken cubes and drain on paper towels.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir for a few seconds until aromatic and add the chopped onion. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, then push to the sides and add the carrots and green bell pepper. Stir-fry for another minute and add the red peppers. (Note: If the vegetables begin to dry out, add a small amount of Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, chicken broth or water).
Bring the sauce back up to a boil and add to the wok, mixing with the vegetables. Add the chicken. Heat through and serve over cooked rice, garnishing with the cucumber if desired.
Note: This recipe is designed to make extra sauce for mixing in with rice. It can easily be adjusted either up or down depending on how much sauce you want – just be sure to keep the proportions constant. For 3/4 lb of chicken, reduce quantities by 1/3 – ie. use 3 TB rice vinegar, 1 TB black rice vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 2 TB tomato paste, etc.