IMG_2036One of the best ways to maximize a small budget is by making food that is all about big flavors. Extreme subtlety is best left to dishes that contain ingredients of the utmost quality — something you’re not going to get as easily on a budget. That being said, this dish is no compromise. A light, healthy take on Sweet & Sour Chicken, a classic Chinese-American restaurant staple, usually sticky and dense.

This recipe comes courtesy of Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen (a great resource for everyday Asian recipes), via Simply Recipes. I, for one, always have a hunk of ginger on hand, and the ingredients here are so simple it’s almost hard to believe! I used chicken breast, but you could save even more by using boneless, skinless thighs. I would have taken more process pictures, but to be perfectly honest, chunks of chicken doused in egg white and cornstarch look kind of revolting, and don’t do justice to the deliciousness of the finished product! The only other modification I made was to add a small diced onion to the mix. You could definitely throw in any veggies hanging out in your crisper.

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Sweet & Sour Chicken
(recipe as published on Simply Recipes)

1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
1/4 cup juice from the canned pineapple
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

In a bowl, combine the chicken with the egg white, salt and cornstarch. Stir to coat the chicken evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

In the meantime, whisk together the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Pour in the 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat. It’s important that the pan is very hot. Add the chicken and spread the chicken out in one layer. Let the chicken fry, untouched for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned. Flip and fry the other side the same for 1 minute. The chicken should still be pinkish in the middle. Dish out the chicken onto a clean plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. Let the oil heat up and then add the bell pepper chunks and ginger. Fry for 1 minute. Add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce. Turn the heat to high and when the sauce is simmering, add the chicken pieces back in. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Timing depends on how thick you’ve cut your chicken. The best way to tell if the chicken is done is to take a piece out and cut into it. If it’s pink, add another minute to the cooking.

Taste the sauce and add more brown sugar if you’d like.