Sweet and Sour Chicken is a popular dish in the Philippines. It’s a classic dish Filipinos love for its sweet, sour, salty, and tangy flavors. This dish is often served as a viand in gatherings, fiestas, and special occasions. Filipinos love this recipe so much that they cook it even on regular days. You can also devour this dish as a “pulutan” or appetizer with an ice-cold beer. However, although it’s easy to make, not everyone will dare to cook this recipe. Its sauce has a unique blend of flavors, making it intimidating for some to cook.
In addition, there are other variants of this dish since you can switch chicken meat with pork and fish. But if you’re a fan of chicken dishes, you’ll surely love this recipe. The Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe is so popular that you can find it all over the Philippines, from local cafeterias, canteens, bars, and high-end restaurants and hotels. Most catering services in the country even offer this dish in their packages. But what is the story behind this dish, and where did it originate?
Despite being popular in the Philippines, the Sweet and Sour sauce originated in China around 17th to 18th century. During the late 19th century, Chinese laborers turned to food trading by introducing their cuisine throughout America. Before it became a classic Chinese takeout, the Sweet and Sour sauce was served at festivals during the Tang Dynasty. As Chinese cuisine became popular in America, Chinese chefs developed the Sweet and Sour dish, catering to the sweet taste buds of Western diners.
The Sweet and Sour sauce was used across China as a dipping for various kinds of meat. It’s also used as a sauce for fruit and vegetable salad. But in Westernized Chinese cuisine, the Sweet and Sour sauce is used for cooking. Also, Europeans have used the unique sweet and sour sauce and cooking method since the Middle Ages. Today, the Sweet and Sour sauce is widely used in Western and Asian cuisines. Since many Chinese barter traded and migrated to the Philippines, it’s no wonder that the Sweet and Sour recipe intrigued Filipinos’ diverse palates.
Traditionally, the Sweet and Sour dish contains pork. But in this recipe, we’re using boneless chicken breast chunks. You can also opt for chicken thighs if you want the meat to be tender and juicier. This dish contains chicken chunks fully coated with a seasoned cornflour batter and deep-fried until golden brown. After frying the chicken, set it aside and proceed to the next step. In another pan, sauté the red and green bell pepper, carrots, onion, and pineapple tidbits.
Now, let’s talk about the most crucial part of the cooking process. The key to a good Sweet and Sour Chicken dish depends on the sauce. It consists of tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt and pepper. If the sauce is not sweet enough, add more brown sugar. If not tangy enough, add more vinegar until you get the desired flavor. Once you’re satisfied with the taste, mix and cook everything in a pan and enjoy your Sweet and Sour Chicken with family and friends.
How to Cook Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1/2 kg chicken breast chunks boneless and skinless
- 1 egg beaten
- 5 tbsp cornflour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pc red bell pepper sliced
- 1 pc green bell pepper sliced
- 1 pc small carrot sliced
- 1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
- 1 pc medium onion chopped
- cooking oil
- for the sauce:
- 1 thumb ginger minced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 5 pcs bay leaves
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- cooking oil
- Put chicken chunks in a mixing bowl. Add egg, cornflour, salt, and pepper. Mix well until the chicken is fully coated.
- Heat cooking oil in a pan. Add the coated chicken chunks. Deep-fry until golden brown then set aside.
- Heat about 2 tbsp cooking oil in a pan. Add onion, carrot, pineapple tidbits, red and green bell peppers. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes then set aside.
- For the sauce
- : Heat about 2 tbsp cooking oil in a pan. Add ginger and garlic then sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, vinegar, water, brown sugar, tomato sauce, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir then bring to a boil. Remove from heat then filter the solid ingredients with a strainer.
- Heat a pan then pour the prepared sauce. Add the fried chicken chunks and the cooked vegetables and pineapple. Mix and cook for 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving dish. Enjoy your sweet and sour chicken!