Friday, 5 October 2012

Fakeaway Friday - Sweet & Sour Chicken

On a Friday, after a week at work that seems a lot longer than 37 hours a lot of us hit the restaurants or the local takeaway. There's something about those overly sweetened, salted, fatty goodies that seems like a great idea, despite the morning after regrets. Did I really wolf down a chicken tikka, rice, naan, poppadom, and a handful of bahji's? No, surely they're in the bin somewhere, or maybe the back of the fridge? Is there any chance He Who Must Be Fed ate them during the night? Then the realisation dawns that after a week of nibbling on salad, cutting out the sugar in your tea, politely declining the office biscuit tin, you undid all that hard work in one evening.

I've been cooking my own takeaways for years (and I'm still on the hunt for the perfect curry recipe), so I'm trying something new with this blog, every Friday I'll share a takeaway favourite recipe, but in a healthier way. If you really can't stomach cooking on a Friday, make it in advance and reheat, takeaway dinner on the table in less time than it takes to call your local.

First up, a new addition to my takeaway repertoire. This one is from the The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight cookbook - probably my favourite tv duo, whose healthy eating diet book reads like a bible of Great British comfort food. I've adjusted the quantities slightly, as we didn't find there was enough chicken for 4 portions, and the vinegar was a bit strong for my taste in the original.

Sweet & Sour Chicken


1 x 425g tin pineapple chunks in natural juice
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, cut into 12 wedges
2 peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, deseeded and cut into chunks of about 3cm
1 x 225g tin water chestnuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
25g piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

Serves: 4
Cost per portion: £2.17
Nutrition: 368 calories, 35g carbs, 34g protein

To make the sauce, drain the pineapple into a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml/5fl oz.

Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste.

Add the remaining juice and 150ml/5fl oz water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Cut each chicken breast into chunky pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for two minutes over a high heat. Drain the water chestnuts and cut them as thinly as possible horizontally (2 cuts should suffice).

Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic, ginger, pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds.

Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4–6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times. Serve with rice.

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