Today starts the beginning of Chinese New Year! When translated, Chinese New Year means Spring Festival and is the first day of the Chinese calendar and runs to the 15th day or the Lantern Festival, something I think would be beauty to behold with children carrying chinese lanterns winking out their lights in the darkness of night in a traditional parade.
During this celebration, vast amounts of food are made by Chinese families in a ritual of honoring long and recently lost ancestors. These foods usually include a whole fish and a whole chicken for prosperity, and noodles that can’t be cut as they represent a long life.
While I have plans to show you a traditional steamed whole fish later in the week, today, and less traditional to real Chinese cooking, I am showing you this recipe Ms. Brettley coaxed us to make one night recently…Sweet and Sour Chicken.
Honestly, this recipe was a breeze because there were two of us making it. Brettley dipped and breaded the chicken while I watched the fry pan. I highly recommend coaxing a friend to help you make this but it’s not necessary if you’re quick on your feet.
Start out by adding about 1/3 cup of vegetable or canola oil into a skillet with high sides. Heat it up over medium high to high heat. Then, using two bowls, in the first, add one whole cup of cornstarch. In another, add in 2 beaten eggs. Cut up 3-5 whole chicken breasts into bite size chunk, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and then, dip them first into the cornstarch and coat them well, then into the egg mixture.
Working in small batches of about 12-16 pieces, fry the pieces on both sides, turning when it gets a deep golden brown to the other side. Honestly, I thought we’d have scrambled eggs over chicken at this point, but the chicken got lovely and browned and crispy. We used a large iron skillet so we got 16 without crowding, but depending on your skillet size, just make sure the sides of the pieces don’t touch each other.
It was very challenging trying to snap pictures while doing this, but I managed between my camera and my iPad to get a few…we also made quite a drippy mess until we figured out what we were doing!
As the pieces finished and using tongs, I nestled them into a sprayed 9 x 13 pan while Brett added the next 10 or so pieces to the fry pan.
We kept this up in batches, until we finished frying up all the chicken.
When the last batch went into the pan, Brettley took over and I made the sauce. In a medium sized bowl, I whisked together brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic salt and then poured it right over top of the chicken. If you like a lot of sauce, double the recipe and reserve half for adding later for dipping!
We stirred it to get it all coated in the luscious sauce and then we popped this into a 350º oven for 15 minutes.
We served it with garlicky green beans and steamed white rice.
It was delicious.
Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
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