I LOVE Chinese food, don’t you?! It was always such a fun and exotic treat when we were kids! All kinds of new flavors, colorful sauces, funky looking noodles, and it always came with those soft, yet crispy, almond cookies and of course a nice handful of fortune cookies! It was always fun to take turns reading our fortunes out loud at the table! Funny how those cute little square cardboard pails with little handles full of Chinese “comfort food” could bring so many smiles!
After I left the house and got married, this was one of the first things I learned how to make! I always got so excited to make this mysterious concoction and watch it turn, like magic!, into a sweet, thick, clear sauce! The first time I made it, though it was great, it was a bit too tangy for me. So over the years this has morphed into the way I, as well as my hubby, prefer it. More on the sweet side than the sour!
What goes into this each time, really varies quite a lot. Different meats such as stir-fried steak, chunks of pork, and even meatballs have made their appearance with great success! As well as varying the veggies and even the fruit. I do always at least start with a large can of pineapple, though. You really need that for the juice amount and I just don’t think it would be the same without it. But on occasion, I’ve added mandarin oranges as I have done here, and even halved maraschino cherries! Just make sure you add enough of those, though, so that there’s no fussing and fighting at the dinner table over who got the most and who didn’t get one. (I have to COUNT them for my husband and I just to keep the peace. 😉 )
But this is the way we like it best. With nice tender chunks of chicken, and pea pods, water chestnuts, mandarin oranges and those cute little baby ears of corn! I just LOVE those little buggers, don’t you?! They will forever remind me of Tom Hanks in the movie “Big”, where he shows up to the company party in a Liberache-style white tuxedo and eats those little ears of corn typewriter-style! Hilarious! 😀
I always like to serve this over white rice, but you could sprinkle on few crunchy Chow Mein noodles on top of each serving just for extra fun if you’d like. This would also be really good on brown or even wild rice, too!
Besides grains, I have also in the past added a handful of lightly salted peanuts and sometimes cashews if I happen to have them, just for extra crunch, fun and added protein. In case someone doesn’t care for them or has allergies, you can also sprinkle these on top if you wish. Nuts are always a fun addition to almost any dish like this.
So if you want a super fun, easy, quick to the table Chinese dinner for the family, you’ll really love this one! It’s incredibly simple to make and turns out fantastic every time! Be sure to pick up a small box or bag of fortune cookies, too! As what would a Chinese dinner be without fortune cookies? 😀
Hope you enjoy this recipe, have fun experimenting with it, and it brings the entire family lots of smiles for years to come! Have a fantastic day all! 😀
SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN with RICE
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 5-6 boneless skinless thighs, about 1 lb. or a little more
1 Tbl. vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 Tbl. cornstarch
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks in heavy syrup or juice, undrained
1/3 cup regular distilled or rice vinegar
1 Tbl. soy sauce
4 oz. sugar snap pea pods (half of an 8 oz. box or bag)
1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
16-20 sweet whole spears baby corn on the cob packed in water, rinsed and drained well
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained well, optional but good
crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, optional
lightly salted and coarse chopped peanuts or cashews, optional
Cut up chicken into bite-sized chunks or julienne if desired. Heat oil in large deep frying pan and sauté until done. About 8-10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm and moist. Drain frying pan and wipe out with a paper towel.
In frying pan, mix cornstarch and brown sugar. Stir in pineapple with syrup or juice, and vinegar and soy sauce.
Over medium heat, heat until boiling and thickened stirring constantly. You’ll know when the sauce is done because it will turn dark and clearish and thicken quickly. Reduce heat.
Add chicken and water chestnuts (drained), cover and simmer over low heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in pea pods and baby corns and continue to cook 5 minutes longer, uncovered, stirring ocaisionally and gently.
Gently fold in can of mandarin oranges (drained well) and serve immediately. I like them in there, but they do tend to water down the sauce just a bit if you over-stir, so be careful if adding them. BARELY fold them in and serve right away.
Serve over hot, cooked white rice. Garnish top with a sprinkle of crunchy Chow Mein Noodles or chopped nuts of desired.