I hardly ever eat takeaway but occasionally I have a craving for sweet and sour chicken. Luckily our local Chinese is closed on a Sunday which is when I most hanker after one (as a salve for a hangover along with a polystyrene cup of chicken and sweetcorn soup and a greasy spring roll).
But occasionally we (should probably read Ben) will make one at home from scratch. This is much nicer anyway and although it does take a little more effort it tastes fresher and doesn’t fill you with regret and self-hatred the moment you’ve finished it.
In other news:
Keeping on the Chinese food theme I have been experimenting with homemade baked spring rolls which are a lot less oily than deep fat frying. They have been quite successful but the filling needs some work before I am happy with the recipe.
My eight year old daughter has declared herself a vegetarian. At first I vowed not to cook special vegetarian meals just for her but I am now being more supportive and have decided to give up meat for Lent in solidarity . So look out for more veggie dishes on this blog. I’ve been stalking the vegetarian aisle in Tesco and have already made a pretty tasty Quorn Bolognese but I would like to get a bit more adventurous (Ottolenghi here I come!).
I recently make some impromptu veggie sausage rolls by wrapping a frozen Linda McCartney sausage in a spring roll wrapper and baking in the oven for 30 minutes. Elizabeth loved them.
I’ve been drinking Ayurvedic detox tea, for no other reason than it tastes delicious (and makes a good caffeine free drink to have in the evening). To make it put ¼ of a teaspoon each of fennel, coriander and cumin seeds into a small tea pot. Pour over ½ a pint of boiling water and allow to infuse for 5 minutes. You can pour in extra hot water afterwards but the tea will obviously be milder.
Sweet and sour chicken
Serves 2-4 (depending on appetite)
For the chicken
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 large chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons of cornflour
- Oil for deep frying
For the sauce
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 2 slices of chopped pineapple (tinned is fine)
- 1 red pepper
- 3 tablespoons of white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree (or for a sweeter taste use ketchup)
- 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons of orange juice
- 2 teaspoons of cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
- If you want that authentic take-away taste then add a good pinch of MSG too
Season the chicken well with salt then dip each piece into the egg and roll in cornflour. Place on a plate in a single layer.
Fill a wok half full with oil and heat over a medium heat until nearly smoking. Drop in a third of the chicken pieces and cook for about 3 minutes until cooked through and a light golden colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken in two more batches.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the wok, reheat and stir fry all the vegetables (except the pineapple) for about 2 minutes. You can vary the vegetables depending on what you like. I like to keep the vegetables nice and crisp but cook for longer if you prefer.
Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, tomato puree, sugar and orange juice (and MSG if you like) in a small bowl. Stir in the cornflour mixture and mix well. Pour the sauce into the wok with the vegetables and add the pineapple. Stir until the sauce boils and thickens slightly. Add the chicken to the pan and stir until well coated with the sauce. Check the seasoning and add a little more salt if necessary.
Serve with rice.
Detox tea for after the mock takeaway.