Today, in pursuit of 2009 Resolution #4 (”I shall cook something I’ve never cooked before, and cook it at least three times to fine-tune the recipe.”), I made sweet and sour chicken. I got the recipe from the internet:
Step 1. Chop a pound of skinless, boneless chicken into one-inch chunks. Put the chunks o’chicken in a bowl.
Step 2. Add 2 teaspoons of corn starch to the bowl. I used “Clabber Girl” cornstarch due to the Simpsons reference, which itself was probably a reference to this particular brand of cornstarch.
Step 3. Add an egg white to the bowl. Wonder what to do with leftover yolk. Look at it oddly in the realization that it is a single cell. Some of you bio majors can correct me if that’s wrong.
Step 4. Mix everything in the bowl together, making sure the chunks o’chicken are evenly coated. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
Step 5: Cut up a red bell pepper and a yellow bell pepper into one-inch chunks. Set them aside for now.
Step 6. Mix the following ingredients together in a different bowl:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup (which seems like a cheap shortcut, which is fine by me)
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
- The juice from an 8 oz. tin of pineapple chunks
Step 7: (I’ll quote directly from the recipe here) “Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates.”
Step 8: Put a few drops of water on the frying pan to see if they evaporate. Wonder why, instead of evaporating, the water droplets are scurrying all over the pan, merging, separating, doing all kinds of magical tricks aside from evaporating.
Step 9: Pour 1 tablespoon of cooking oil on the pan. Watch room fill with smoke. Turn on fan above stove. Disconnect blaring smoke detector. Turn ceiling fan to max. Open windows and turn on floor fan, pointed towards window.
Step 10: When air has cleared, realize that my perfectly good frying pan is now scorched. Use it anyways.
Step 11: Turn down heat on pan so that it’s hot enough that water will sizzle and evaporate rather than seem-to-defy the laws of physics.
Step 12: Very slowly and carefully, pour another tablespoon of cooking oil on the pan.
Step 13: Throw the chicken on the pan, making sure to spread it out evenly. Let it fry until it browns on one side, then flip it. Let it fry until it browns on the other side.
Step 14: When the chicken has been sufficiently browned on both sides–which isn’t literally “brown,” but browner than it was before–put the chicken on a clean plate.
Step 15: Turn down heat to medium. Pour in 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. Throw the chunks of bell pepper in the pan. Add 1 teaspoon of ground-up ginger. Let it fry for a minute.
Step 16: Now add the pineapple chunks from the juice-less tin and the sauce from Step 6. Mix it together, turn the heat back up.
Step 17: When this mixture begins to simmer, put the chicken back in. Mix it around while frying. Check every so often to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through (no hint of pink in the center).
Step 18: Wonder whether chicken is actually sufficiently cooked just because the center is white, decide that it probably is.
Step 19: Put in a bowl with some rice (the preparation of which I won’t describe here), make sure it won’t burn mouth, and eat. Be surprised that it turned out as well as it did, though it may have cost me a frying pan.
Here’s mine, in the pan and on the plate:
It was good, but the “Not-Chicken to Chicken” ratio might’ve been too high, around 2:1. If I can get it down around the golden mean (φ), I think I’ll be happier with the result. I have to prepare it at least two more times to fulfill my resolution.