You know that Sweet and Sour Chicken with plain boiled rice that you had at home in the 90s? The sweet & sour with chunks of pineapple and a jar of Uncle Ben’s sauce from the supermarket that is a world away from anything found in China or even the takeaway? This is it – only homemade from scratch. Full on tasty nostalgia!
I say ‘Asian’ but really this is more British middle classes circa the early 90s when Uncle Ben’s launched their cooking sauces in the UK. Its the kind of sweet and sour chicken that tastes nothing like anything you’d ever find in Asia or even a Chinese takeaway.
This recipe stems from the one served to my friends and I by Sandra Page when we were teenagers (remember the wedding tea I made? Sandra was mother of the bride). Thanks Sandra!
There are two real secrets to recreating this kind of dish from scratch. The first is cornflour. This is the best way to get the required gloop on the sauce. Cornflour is actually a pretty authentic ingredient in chinese cuisine – its used a lot both for thickening sauces, coating things that are going to be deep fried and making dumpling skins. The second is tomato ketchup. Preferably the cheap kind with a good amount of sugar and lack of actual tomato. This provides the colour and adds to the tang, body and sweetness of the sauce. You could substitute a little tomato puree for a more grown up affair.
I would always serve this with plain white boiled rice. Egg fried rice would be my second choice followed by egg noodles. The boil in the bag kind would be the most (or least) authentic followed by the microwaveable bags. For a more modern twist, I would use my Sushi Rice but without the seasonings mixed in.
Serves 3 – 450kcal per Serving
2 Bell Peppers – any colours
2 Small or 1 Large White Onion
1/2 Small Courgette (optional)
1 Tbsp Veg Oil
2 Chicken Breasts
1 Tbsp Chicken Stock Concentrate
6 Tbsp Pineapple Juice
6 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp White Wine/Cyder/Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1 Tbsp Garlic Paste
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Cornflour
- My version doesn’t include the traditional pineapple, primarily because I don’t like it. When I was a teenager living at home, I did sometimes use the juice from a small can then just leave the chunks for someone else to eat. Feel free to add the chunks back into the recipe.
- I also sometimes use orange juice instead of the pineapple if you don’t want to buy any specially.
- It needs serving with plain boiled rice – probably the boil in the bag kind for true ‘authenticity’.
Chop 2 Bell Peppers, 2 Small or 1 Large White Onion and 1/2 Small Courgette into 1cm chunks.
Add to a large based pan with 1 Tbsp Veg Oil and fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the veg has softened a little.
Meanwhile, chop 2 Chicken Breasts into similar sized chunks. Add these to the pan and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes until the chicken has cooked though. Keep stirring every now and again.
Whilst the chicken is cooking, mix 250ml Water, 1 Tbsp Chicken Stock Concentrate, 6 Tbsp Pineapple Juice, 6 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar, 3 Tbsp White Wine/Cyder/Rice Wine Vinegar, 2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup, 1 Tbsp Garlic Paste and 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce in a jug.
Once the chicken is cooked though, add the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. (Also add the pineapple now if you want to).
Mix 2 Tbsp Cornflour with a little cold water to make a slurry and add to the sauce. Stir over the heat until the sauce is thickened. A little gloopy is the desired texture.
Serve with plain boiled rice.
Let me know what your favourite nostalgic recipe is in the comments!
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For more easy weeknight dinners ideas, why not check out some of my other popular speedy recipes:
Chicken, Chickpea and Butternut Korma (easily Vegan)
Turkey and Butternut Chowder
Pan Fried Gnocchi with Chicken Meatballs and Pea Puree (10 Minute Meal)
Skinny Mac’n’Cheese Side Dish (or Full Meal with Gammon and Mushrooms)
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