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Sweet and Sour Sauce


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I am planning on cooking a chinese style meal for New Year on Monday and have always wanted to know how to do a good sweet and sour sauce.


Because of my nut allergy I can't use ready made jars or packets as they quite often use nuts or may have nut contamination so I would like to try and make some myself.


What's the basic method, in as much what makes the sweet and the sour? Anyone got one of those tried and tested old family recipes? :)


This is one of the things I never got to grips with in my cooking


Thanks for any help :)

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That looks like a good recipe, Gato. I've made 糖醋排骨 a few times very similar to that. The step three parboiling is important. Once tried omitting that and it was a flop. Finding and using 冰糖 is worth the trouble, it coats the meat better than granulated sugar would while being less sweet. As to the vinegar, I've used other kinds with equal success; don't really think it needs to be 白醋。


Wish you great success, Shelley. Should be a festive occasion. Take some photos if you have a chance. Do you have chopsitcks? I'll bet so.

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As far as I know there are two kinds of sweet and sour sauces. The first one is that I also sometimes make at home which is simply made of water, ketchup, sugar and white vinegar. The proportions are tricky, especially for the vinegar as some are lighter, while others are super sour. I tend to just keep adjusting and tasting until I'm satisfied. Not sure if there's a more authentic method of making this one.


The second type, which I actually like more (but never made it myself) is the one that uses soy sauce as a base. It looks more dark and often seasoned with sesame. See this image: http://imgsrc.baidu.com/forum/w%3D580/sign=b2bdddaf72094b36db921be593cc7c00/2e8eaa6eddc451da02db2f9bb2fd5266d016326f.jpg

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Thank you gato but my chinese is not up to following that recipe.


Also I wanted more of a pouring sauce than a coating sauce, something to pour over chicken balls in batter. My plan is to make chicken balls and rice and then be able to pour it over at the table, to each persons taste, some sauce.


This something I have had before and it has certain memories for me and I was trying to recreate it. I have done the chicken and the rice many times but never done the sauce.

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FWIW, chicken balls are pretty much the least authentic type of "Chinese" food there is (I've certainly never seen them on sale anywhere in China). That's not to say they won't be tasty, but I guess it depends how authentic you're aiming for.


Edit: actually, I've never seen that type of sweet n' sour dipping sauce in China, either. Might be a thing in some type of dim sum or something, though.

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I will admit it is probably only a thing here in the UK. I never been to China, or anywhere near. All my chinese food experiences have been from my local chinese restaurants in the UK.


Even that has been very rare because of my nut allergy. But the one thing I could eat was this and so for me it brings back memories of late nights, friends and good times.


My nut allergy is one of my health reasons that I can't travel to china much as want to I can't. This I accept and make the best of it.

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My sister has a nut allergy and she went to China to visit me. You just have to really look out when eating in a restaurant.


There are very few restaurants in the west that serve authentic Chinese food. If you have Chinese friends or know some Chinese people you could ask them

which restaurants are good.

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Oh come on, Shelley. Stretch a bit. Do it the right way. Balls of minced chicken meat with sauce poured over at the table sounds awful. Set aside those old memories, no matter how comfortable they may be, and start the new Chinese New Year with something more authentic. Consider it a resolution to celebrate the Year of the Monkey.


This is a special meal, and it needs to be one where you pull out all the stops. When I've been invited to any Chinese friend's house for this New Year's Eve feast, it has been a real grand production with beautiful dishes literally covering every square inch of the table. Rich or poor, they cook for hours and hold nothing back.


What you have planned is a pale imitation. It's embarrassing. You can do better than that; I know it. Heck, I'll even translate Gato's recipe if you can't do it yourself. But I'll bet that you can. (Hint: lots of it is poetic and humorous; it can be distilled down into a much simpler form.)


And brew some Chinese tea while your are at it. Your guests will thank you and the New Year will be off to an adventurous and courageous start.

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Minced chicken? No, bite sized pieces of whole tender breast meat, done in a batter of seasoned flour, egg, and finally bread crumbs. Deep fried till they are golden and crispy. some nice sticky rice and hopefully some tasty sweet and sour sauce to pour over. If you do it before they are served they go soggy, hence pouring at the table.


The sauce I have in mind is not too thin and has a lovely reddish colour (red for good luck) and good flavour.


I am doing this for my partner and I, no guests :( Tea is a good idea. (Which reminds me, must tell you about my tea experiences, I will post it in the tea topic of yours)

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This looks good for a westernized sweet and sour chicken breast dish.




Hope it turns out well. Am puzzled by the choice of sticky rice.


One of my earliest memories of China is eating a chicken dish in which the pieces had been cut up "on the bone." It let me know that some adjustment would be necessary to different styles of food preparation over here.

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That site redirects you to its UK version, which still gives the chicken recipe, but it seems a bit confused: the ingredients list does have coriander leaves and mangetout, but the recipe has snow peas and canola oil (I suppose it should say cilantro instead of coriander if it's US). But it does at least have g and ml. I suppose Shelley as a Canadian is international enough to get all this.



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Zeppa. No coriander leaves or snow peas. I'll copy and paste the recipe as I found it.
Sweet and Sour Chicken

Yield: 2-4 servings


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
4 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 4 teaspoons water
1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained with 1/2 cup reserved juice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped green pepper

In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Season chicken strips and add to pan. Brown chicken and remove to plate. Add red and green peppers and cook for 1 minute. Stir in pineapple chunks, juice, sugar, vinegar and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce begins to reduce. Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring liquid to a simmer. Stir in chicken strips and cook for 5 minutes.
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So...I gave up on the idea of sweet and sour "not very chinese" chicken and decided to cook "my chinese chicken". This is what I did.


I started with a wok and pot for the rice




Then I chopped up the chicken, a green bell pepper, a medium onion. Prepared a little cornflour and water in the jug, rinsed the bean sprouts and drained the sweetcorn.



I put some oil in the wok and then heated up the wok and then added some soya sauce. I then added the chicken, I stirred it around so all the chicken was browned and then I turned the heat down and put the lid on to cook the chicken slowly and thoroughly.




After a few minutes I took the lid off and added the pepper and onion, turned the heat up and did some stirring.



By now the water for the rice has come to the boil so I added the rice and turned down the heat at bit.



Some more stirring and then I added the sweetcorn and stirred some more.



I then added the bean sprouts as they wanted to only get hot and not go soggy, a quick stir around and then added the cornflour and stirred it some more and let the sauce thickne, I added a bit more soya sauce and a small amount of water as it was a bit thick.

Turned the heat right down low just to keep it all warm.




When the rice was done I drained it and then I served it up for two people.



We both enjoyed it very much.


I also have to say abcdefg that it is not easy to cook and take pictures and remember what method and in what order you did it all. I had do our tea as afters because I couldn't do it all at the same time.


So I now appreciate much more how much effort you put into your cooking posts. Thank you. and happy New Year to all.

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That looks real good, Shelley. Thanks for the pictures and the commentary. Pretty Chinese crockery tableware! And I like your wok. It looks like it's one of the old kind that isn't too thick or non-stick coated. It can tolerate high temperatures and make things crispy, especially when cooking over gas heat.


I had do our tea as afters because I couldn't do it all at the same time.


That's the best way.

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The wok is about 30 years old and is not non stick and yes it is quite thin, it does very well on the gas. I don't like non stick, it doesn't always work and so when things stick you end up scraping the non stick off.


I also use cast iron pans for frying and the glass pots you saw me use for the rice. No coatings to come off.


It's 40 years of getting just the right stuff for my kitchen :)

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