My two youngest daughters can be pretty picky when it comes to Asian food. So, when I first prepared this recipe, I was concerned that they wouldn't really dig it. Surprisingly (and thankfully), I was wrong. Plates cleaned. "Seconds" requested. This has definitely now become a regular in the JD household. And, it's gotten great reviews from guests who have been over for dinner when we've served this.
Initially, I was really surprised at the method used to yield this style of breaded chicken. It's quite unique and something I hadn't been familiar with in the past. But, it's actually really neat and quite simple.
Although the chicken in this recipe spends the majority of its time in the oven, there is a quick step of flash-frying it in a tiny bit of oil before it ends up in the oven. I'm telling myself, however, that this has to be a tad bit healthier than take-out since it is not completely cooked by way of deep-frying and I get to control the ingredients.
UPDATE 4/9/13: I have received comments and emails concerning the fact that I present this recipe as something "Chinese." Yes, I am aware that sweet and sour chicken is more of an American idea of what Chinese cuisine is. But, since it's something here in America that many of our "Chinese" restaurants do serve, I like that I am able to make a version at home that we absolutely love. (Yes, though ... I am aware that this is not authentic Chinese food.)
Yields 5 - 7 servings
FOR THE CHICKEN -
3 - 4 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 - 1/2 cup canola oil
FOR THE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE -
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt (or a little more if using garlic powder)
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Additional Ingredient -
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Trim and cut chicken into cubes. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
Place the cornstarch into a gallon-size plastic bag and add all of the chicken cubes into it. Seal and shake to coat.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a large dish or bowl. Pour beaten egg over the chicken and stir gently to coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet and pan-fry chicken over medium-high heat on both sides until slightly browned - but not cooked through. (Work in two or three batches as necessary so as not to crowd pan while frying.)
Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 or similar size greased baking dish.
Mix the sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a small bowl with a fork or whisk (do not add in the sesame seeds). Pour three-fourths of the sauce evenly over the chicken ... reserving the rest for dipping at time of service. Gently stir to coat.
Bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. During the baking process, you will need to gently stir chicken every 15 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, sprinkle on the sesame seeds and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Watch chicken so that it does not burn. Stir chicken a couple of times during the final 15 minutes of baking. Best served with rice or Asian noodles.
NOTE: Sliced onions and peppers can be added into the baking dish with the chicken, if desired.
12/13/2016: Updated some of the photos and made clarifications to post.
Adapted from Life as a Lofthouse.