A great fake-away treat that you've had at the takeaway, but now you can make it far better at home and it's much healthier! This Hairy Bikers based recipe will show you how.
For the chicken
½ small pineapple
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp cornflour
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly diagonally sliced
For the sauce
1 tbsp cornflour
300ml/10fl oz fresh pineapple juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
25g/1oz piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper
MethodTo make the sauce, put the cornflour in a small bowl and stir in two tablespoons of the pineapple juice until smooth. Put the remaining pineapple juice in a separate bowl and stir in the garlic, ginger, soy, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Put the pineapple on a board and cut off the skin. Quarter lengthways and remove the tough central core. Cut the pineapple into thick slices and set aside. Cut each chicken breast into seven to nine even pieces (depending on size).
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for three minutes over a high heat. Coat the chicken in the cornflour and add to the pan. Stir-fry for four minutes until very lightly coloured on all sides.
Add the pineapple and sweet and sour sauce to the pan with the chicken and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly until the chicken is cooked through and the pineapple is hot.
Stir in the cornflour and pineapple solution mixture and cook for 30–60 seconds until the sauce is thickened and glossy, turning the chicken and vegetables until nicely coated. Sprinkle with sliced spring onions and serve hot.
This recipe has extra vegetables and a bit less sugar to keep the calories down and make it a good choice for a weekday dinner. Serve with steamed rice.
If you like the brightly coloured sauce you often get from Chinese takeaways, you can add a drop of red food colouring. The bright orangey-red colour is always artificial.
If you like your chicken crispy the following tips will create delicious bites that you can mix with the sauce at the end.
For the marinated chicken
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
300g/10½oz chicken cut into large cubes
For the batter
5 tbsp cornflour
1 free-range egg white
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2–3 tbsp mixed sesame seeds, plus extra to garnish
For the chicken, combine the sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce and egg in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a large bowl and massage the marinade well into the meat.
Mix the batter ingredients and 4 tablespoons of cold water together in a bowl and massage all around the meat. The batter should have quite a sticky consistency.
Half-fill a wok with vegetable oil and heat to 180C. Alternatively, use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test the oil by placing the tip of the wood in the oil – if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is at roughly 180C. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
Carefully place the battered chicken pieces, one by one, into the hot oil so that the pieces do not stick together. Do not overload the wok with chicken – if you need to fry the meat in two batches, it is best to do so in order to retain the heat in the oil and keep each piece nice and crispy.
Cook the chicken pieces for at least 4–5 minutes, until they are floating at the top of the oil, golden brown and crispy. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper for 2–3 minutes. To get the chicken pieces extra crispy, fry all the chicken pieces a second time in the heated wok for a further minute before draining again.