Sweet and sour chicken

I’ve been following Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen blog for a while and Elise’s Simply Recipes for even longer, so as far I was concerned, when the former guested on the latter, there was no bad there. Jaden gave a recipe for Sweet and Sour chicken and it looked easy and relatively un-evil. Also, it had canned pineapple, which gets it an embarrassingly high number of coolness points from me; I blame the pu-pu platters of my youth.

My initial plan was to use tofu, but a very awful thing happened — my tofu went bad. Very bad. Soured tofu is not something you want to experience; it should come with a hazmat warning. It reeks. Even worse, the tofu water is even more foul and you have to get every drop of it cleaned up and gone before you can even ponder breathing through your nose again. In short, if you suspect your tofu is bad, don’t open it.

Since I’d just come back from the market when I’d realized my tofu was off, I quickly defrosted some chicken breasts and ended up making the recipe more or less as written. I used sesame oil to cook with, stuck to red peppers (the yellow and orange ones were $4.99/lb), threw in some string beans, and added a pinch of red pepper flakes.

The first step is to make a slurry with the egg white and cornstarch; I ended up letting the chicken sit for maybe half an hour; all of my pre-dinner wiggle room was used up defrosting the chicken.

I have a wok. A genuine, purchased-in-Flushing, well-seasoned wok. I just didn’t feel like getting it down.

The sauce is pretty straightforward and easy to put together. The secret ingredient is ketchup.

I’m pretty hit-and-miss with mis en place and any kind of prep-work; my main spice rack is right over the KitchenAid and right next to the stove and taking things out to put them on the counter would actually put them farther away. But I’ve gotten much better at getting items chopped up — or at least out of the fridge — beforehand. Especially for sauteing or any other method that requires a quick turn-around time.

There was a little too much sauce, at least for my tastes, at the end, so I pulled everything solid out, reduced the sauce to a more manageable level, and returned everything to the not-wok to finish up. It was excellent, both for dinner and for the lunches that followed.


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