Authentic flavors and textures of food from countries outside of the USA are sometimes worlds apart from the versions modified for the average American palate. This fact was brought to my attention when I attended a Chinese cooking class. Our instructor was a college professor from China who also happened to love cooking; she told us to embrace the unfamiliar ingredients we were about to encounter - they were not going to be like most of the food stuffed into those little white boxes!
Jion Liou Yen was a wonderful teacher who not only taught how to cook her country's dishes, she gave us the history behind the food we were to prepare.Yen introduced Szechuan, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hunan cuisine.We learned that the people who lived in cooler climate regions favored meals which included more meat and wheat flour while other regions embraced hot and spicy flavors.
Overall, the Cantonese recipes were the most familiar to our class of student chefs because it included egg drop soup, wontons, spring rolls, chow-mein, pork fried rice and a wonderful Sweet and Sour Chicken.
*One thing to remember when preparing Chinese recipes, there is a certain amount of food preparations which must be done before the actual cooking begins. The cooking process is fast-paced, has a certain rhythm to it and takes concentration!
This recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken is gluten-free.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
(pork or shrimp may be substituted for the chicken)
1 chicken breast (whole)
½ green pepper, coarsely chopped½ red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 C cornstarch
1 T soy sauce (gluten free, optional)1 T sherry or rice wine
½ tsp salt (Himalayan pink, optional)
1 egg white (beat until frothy)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 T rice wine or dry sherry1 T soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 C rice vinegar (pineapple juice may be substituted for a less tart flavor)1/3 -1/2 C brown sugar
¼ C ketchup
¼ C chicken stock
1 T cornstarch
(taste sauce - if too sour add more sugar)
· Cut chicken into ¾ inch cubes. Combine marinade ingredients in a med. bowl and combine with chicken cubes. Set aside for 30 minutes.
· Put pan (wok) on high heat and add oil to coat bottom.
· Place cornstarch in a plastic bag and toss in chicken pieces. Shake bag to coat chicken evenly.
· Add coated chicken, a few pieces at a time, and cook for 3 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Chicken should be crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel. Continue with remaining chicken adding more oil as needed.
· Remove pan from heat and wipe clean with paper towel. Place back on med. high heat and add 1 T oil. Stir in peppers and cook while stirring for about ½ minute.
· Turn heat down to med. and add sweet-and-sour sauce. Cook until sauce is hot.
· Stir in chicken, mix well. Remove from heat. Serve with rice. (serves 4)