Wednesday 24 November 2010


Summer is on our doorstep and my paunch and double chin is way out of line. Time to take the diet and training seriously, and I have been doing that for almost two-weeks now.

But because I have left it so late, even though I am allowed to cheat at least once per week, I feel guilty, fearing that I will still look like a beachball on legs when summer really kicks in and the beaches beckon.

So my mind turns to compromised options for cheat days.
Chinese style sweet and sour chicken sounds like a plan.

• 1kg skinned, de-boned chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• A little fresh ground black pepper, ground ginger and garlic powder to season flour (not a lot)
• 1/2 cup milk
• 2 eggs
• Vegetable oil
• 1 green bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch square bits
• 1 red bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch square bits
• 1 large onion cut into 1/2-inch bits
• 2 medium carrots,sliced thinly on the diagonal julienne style
• 1 can pineapple chunks in juice (no added sweeteners)
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
• 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 4 - 6 drops red food colouring
• 2 heaped tablespoons corn starch, maizena or flour mixed in enough cold water to make a thin paste.

In small frying pan, add 1cm vegetable oil to cover base. Heat to deep-frying temperature.
In a bowl mix eggs and milk. Beat until well combined.
Place flour and seasonings in a shallow bowl and mix.
Dunk pieces of chicken in the egg and milk mixture. Allow excess to drain.
Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour coating thoroughly.
Drop pieces into the hot oil and fry until deep golden brown. Turn as necessary to cook evenly on all sides. When golden brown, remove to paper towel covered plate to drain.
Repeat until all chicken pieces are cooked. Set aside until assembly.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
Remove pineapple from juices and place pineapple pieces and water in sauce pan. Heat over low flame. Slowly add sugar while stirring.
When sugar has dissolved, slowly add the vinegar and the lemon juice while stirring.
Add corn starch paste and stir while heating. Bring to a boil.
Stir constantly until thickened. Add food colouring (a couple drops at first and then adjust until you have the red colour you like) and stir well to mix. Continue to heat and stir until almost a syrup. Remove from heat and set aside.
Note: You will be judging the thickness of the sauce while it is hot. It will thicken considerably when it is set aside and cools. Later, when added to the vegetables, the moisture from the vegetables will thin the sauce quite a bit.

Completed Dish
Add a little vegetable oil to a large frying pan or wok. Bring to frying temperature over medium heat. Add vegetables (but not the pineapple) and cook, stirring frequently, until onions start turning golden.
Add sweet and sour sauce and continue cooking and stirring until vegetable are bite tender and sauce has re-thickened and clings to the vegetables.
Add pineapple and chicken bits and fold into the vegetables and sauce. Simmer until heated through. Serve.
Most home-made sweet and sour sauces are made with brown sugar and the sauce has the distinctive coffee colour of the molasses in the brown sugar. This recipe produces a red sweet and sour sauce that looks just like the Chinese restaurant take-out food but I think that it tastes a lot better.

Serve with white rice.

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