When I was in high school, I worked at a local Chinese restaurant. I loved working there...except when it was 100 degrees outside and I had to be behind the steam tables or in the back kitchen chopping vegetables. I remember one time my boss asked me to go get something from the back storage room, and to this day I still have no idea how I was supposed to know what she wanted. She had a really thick accent so all I could make out was "Bock da bock." When she got so frustrated that I wasn't understanding, she went to go get it herself. She came with to-go cups for sodas. I don't know how "Bock da bock" was supposed to convey "To-go cups for sodas," but I quickly learned to get to-go cups whenever she asked for them. Aside from the language barrier, working there was a lot of fun. My boss was such a good cook; her Chinese food (although she was Cambodian) was so delicious. I have never been able to find anyone who can make Lemon Chicken, Chow Mein, or Hot and Sour Soup like she could. I used to get to bring home scads of leftover Chinese food, which was a bonus for my family since they all really enjoyed her food, too! Every time I eat at a Chinese restaurant I think of my days working there and my mouth starts to water! When I found this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe over at BrownEyedBaker I was surely skeptical because I know that homemade Chinese food rarely compares to restaurant food--and nothing compares to the stuff I got to eat in high school. But, I was pleasantly surprised! The Sweet and Sour sauce is really, really good; it's not too sweet nor is it too sour--the flavors all balance really well together. This will definitely be a part of the regular menu rotation. Enjoy!
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Source: Inspired by BrownEyedBaker but changed to suit my cooking style
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly on an angle
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons ketchup
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups white or brown rice
3 1/2 - 4 cups water
Put the rice and water in a medium sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil. The rice takes about 25 minutes to cook. Fluff with a fork when the water is dissolved and the rice is tender.
Put the cut-up chicken, the salt and pepper, and the cornstarch in a large, resealable Zip-lock baggie. Making sure the bag is tightly closed, shake the chicken to coat all the pieces with the corn starch. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and transfer the coated chicken pieces to the egg; discard the rest of the corn starch. Toss the chicken in the eggs. Heat the oil in a large skillet or a wok over medium-high heat. Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil. Allow to brown evenly on all sides and cook through entirely (this takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how big your pieces of chicken are). After about 10 minutes of browning the chicken, add the sliced carrots.
While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, white vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked and there is a nice, golden brown, crispy coating on the chicken, pour the sauce over the top of the cooked chicken and allow to cook together about 5-7 minutes; the sauce will reduce and thicken up. Serve the chicken with the rice and garnish with chopped green onions (optional).