When I think about Sweet and Sour Chicken, crisp bell peppers, juicy pineapple and tender chunks of chicken breast come to mind. Unfortunately, sugary sauces, MSG and greasy hunks of indiscriminate chicken parts do too. And, um, no! If you’re like me you’ll take a hard pass and then keep browsing the menu with a just a tad of longing for what could have been. But seriously, if you strip down this dish to its core, there is plenty of goodness to be had without sacrificing any flavor. With this healthier take you can leave the creepy orange sauce at the store and even learn what to do with that leftover pineapple juice from that can you never knew what to do with…until now!
Still not convinced? Maybe you have no chicken? No problem, substitute chunks of pork, white button mushrooms or extra-firm tofu. Red bell peppers too expensive? Grab extra green bell peppers and throw in a handful of grape tomatoes, or check out yellow or orange bell peppers, as sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to the price or sales scheme. Too busy to chop? Visit your produce section and look for pre-sliced fajita veggies or head to the salad bar and load up on peppers and onions there. This pairs perfectly with brown or white rice, maybe some buckwheat soba noodles; frozen and pre-cooked versions make this meal even quicker, just remember to budget in the extra costs for the convenience. Before serving, top with some sliced scallions for freshness and perhaps some cashews or those crispy lo mein noodles for a little crunch.
Quick Tip: If you’re looking for an easy, fool-proof way to cook brown rice? Click here.
1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil (1 tablespoon for a wok, 2 tablespoons for a fry pan)
1 pound chicken breast, cut into bitesize chunks
Pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons corn starch, separated
1 large green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium red or yellow onion, cut into chunks
1 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks in juice, drained, but with the juice saved for the sauce (should be about a cup)
1 cup-ish reserved pineapple juice (whatever is in the can is fine)
1 1/2 tablespoon low-sodium or naturally fermented soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated (or 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder)
1 teaspoon sriracha, optional
1 1/2 cup white or brown rice, prepared according to package directions
Thinly sliced scallions for garnishing
- Make your rice and chop your ingredients. The dish only take around 10-15
- In a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl, combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, water, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, sriracha and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix well and set to the side.
- Once the rice is almost finished, toss the cut chicken with 1 tablespoon of corn starch and the pinch of salt until evenly coated.
- Warm the oil in your wok or high-sided fry pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer.
- Add the chicken, tossing occasionally to sear on all sides. About 3-5 minutes, as it will depend on how hot your cooktop gets.
- Add the peppers, onion and pineapple, cook another 3-5 minutes.
- Give the sauce a quick whisk and then add it to the pan, stirring until all the ingredients are mixed well. The sauce will begin to thicken immediately.
- Lower the heat to medium and simmer another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce thickens too much, add additional water or pineapple juice (if there is any left), a tablespoon at a time.
- Once the chicken is cooked and the sauce is saucy, serve atop rice or noodles, garnish with sliced scallions and nosh!