For many, many years now, General Tso’s chicken has been my go-to Chinese take-out dish but before I discovered my love for it, I was a sweet and sour chicken girl. I remember meeting up with friends at the mall for some shopping when I was in high school, and afterward we’d always split an order of sweet and sour chicken in the food court. Those were the days, weren’t they? Random aside – a few weeks ago a sweet woman at the library was selling raffle tickets and suggested I might not be old enough to participate. I almost didn’t believe she was serious so I confirmed the requirement was 18 before chuckling and assuring her it wouldn’t be a problem. It did make me feel better about not being carded at the liquor store the last handful of times I was there 🙂
Anyway, I digress, but I’m pretty sure the last time I had sweet and sour chicken was when I actually was about 18, so yeah, a long time ago. I love making Chinese take-out dishes at home – not only do I know exactly what’s going into them, but I can control the portion sizes too. I don’t know about you guys, but my local take-out spot puts enough food into one meal to serve at least 3 people, it’s crazy!
I was really excited to give this old favorite a try, and the recipe didn’t disappoint. It takes a bit of time to prep all the ingredients, but once you do, the dish comes together really quickly. I loved the combination of pineapple and red onions along with the chicken, but I can see making this with a number of other veggies in the future. The sauce had a nice balance of sweetness and tang, and bonus, it’s made with just a few common pantry staples. I really like stir-frys for summer since they only require a few minutes of cooking and minimize the time you’re standing over a hot stove. This one’s a definite repeat, and there are quite a few others in this book I’m itching to try too!
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons pineapple juice (or orange juice)
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry vermouth (or sherry)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, white parts minced and green parts cut into 1/4-inch lengths
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2 small red onions, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 cups pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)
To make the sauce: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the soy sauce and vermouth. Mix the garlic, ginger, scallion whites and 2 teaspoons of the oil together in a small bowl.
Set a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat and add 1 teaspoon of the oil. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a clean plate.
Add the last teaspoon of oil to the skillet, and heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pineapple and cook briefly just to heat through, about 1 minute.
Make a well in the center of the pan, and add the garlic mixture. Cook, stirring almost constantly, just until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Mix the vegetables with the garlic mixture then add the scallion greens and chicken (along with any juices on the plate), stirring to combine. Add the sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer, allowing it to reduce and thicken slightly, and stirring frequently to make sure all of the ingredients are well coated. Serve over rice.