My dad likes fruit but doesn’t like fruit in his savoury meals. Fair enough, that’s not that unusual. Mum loves to tell a story (potentially exaggerated…I’m not sure) about making dad his ‘favourite’ meal of sweet and sour when they were newlyweds. Apparently mum had been making it for him often until dad just one day mentioned he disliked fruit in savoury dishes and didn’t like the pineapple in the sweet and sour.
Dad’s version of the story is slightly different and I’m sure that part of it was that dad was genuinely thankful for mum’s delicious dinners.
I take after my dad in so many ways but not in this respect. I love fruit in savoury meals. I love the pop of raisins in things like these spiced lamb stuffed zucchinis and I clearly like to put fruit in my salads. Key is also massive fan of sweet and sour. When we went to the Newton Circus hawker centre a few weeks back, Key had a sweet and sour dish with apple in it and it gave me the idea for this dish.
I slightly ‘healthified’ this sweet and sour chicken by skipping the deep frying and dramatically reducing the amount of sugar that I saw in some recipes online. It’s still plenty sweet enough though with the two types of fruit and it’s still not a dinner for dieting.
In Singapore, you can buy trays or even individual pieces of cut fruit which is perfect for something like this when you only need a fairly small amount. I didn’t even use all of the pineapple in the above picture, but we ate that before waste was an issue. Of course, you can use tinned pineapple if you prefer.
I used half of a red and green capsicum for no other reason than the colours :) Feel free to use a whole capsicum in a colour of your choice if you know you won’t use the leftover green and red capsicums in something else.
I skipped the corn flour in the sauce and instead used potato starch to coat the chicken. This is enough to slightly thicken the sauce without getting a gloopy texture. I had to leave the tomato sauce in the recipe though. It wouldn’t be sweet and sour without it.
For some reason you can’t buy boneless chicken thighs at the supermarket in Singapore. So if you are in Singapore, buy what is marked as boneless chicken legs at the supermarket. From what I can tell, it is a slightly different cut, but it’s the closest thing to thigh that I’ve found so I can avoid having to trek to a butcher to get boneless thighs.
Cook the chicken pieces in batches and keep them separated so that they shallow fry instead of stew.
Because the chicken is only shallow fried and then cooked in the sweet sauce you won’t retain a super crunchy texture on it but you do get a coating around it that holds the sauce rally well and keeps it really juicy.
You could make this in a large frying pan but a wok and a wok turner will make this much easier.
As with all stir frying, have your vegetables, sauce and meat all near to the stove top to allow for ease of access during the relatively quick stir frying process.
I was trying to be good and not have any rice, but in hindsight it would have been great with some rice to soak up that delicious sauce.
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Apple and Pineapple
Ingredients – Serves 3-4
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tbs tomato sauce or ketchup
- ½ tbs light soy sauce
- 2 tbs plain flour
- 2 tsp of potato starch. Alternatively use 1½ tsp of corn flour
- 1 white onion, peeled and finely sliced
- ½ red capsicum, seeded, pith removed and cut into strips
- ½ green capsicum, seeded, pith removed and cut into strips
- 1 cup of peeled and roughly chopped pieces of fresh pineapple. Alternatively use tinned pineapple.
- 1 green apple, cored and roughly chopped into similar sized pieces as the pineapple
- 3 spring onions, green parts only finely sliced
For the marinade
- 500g skinless chicken thighs chopped into rough cubed pieces
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp of rice wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 spring onion, white and green parts finely chopped
- In a small, non-reactive bowl, mix together the chicken pieces and all of the ingredients for the marinade. Cover and refrigerate to marinade for at least an hour.
- Once the chicken has marinated, chop all of the vegetables and then prepare the sauce by mixing together the vinegar, sugar, tomato sauce and soy sauce with ¼ cup of water in a mixing jug or bowl. Stir together to combine but the sugar does not need to be dissolved. Place the vegetables and sauce near to your stove top.
- Heat about 1tbs of a neutral oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat. While that is heating, stir the flour and starch through the chicken until it is sticky and there are no floury bits left.
- Cook the chicken in the wok in batches until golden on both sides and almost cooked through. Keep the chicken pieces separated so that they shallow fry instead of stew. Set aside the chicken in a bowl after cooking each batch and add a little more oil to the wok as you cook the batches if required.
- Once all of the chicken is set aside, add the onions to the wok and stir fry until they are starting to soften or for about a minute.
- Next add the capsicum and fruit to the pan and continue stir frying for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the vegetables are mostly cooked, add the chicken and any resting juices back into the wok with the sauce and toss to combine.
- Bring the sauce to a boil so that it thickens slightly. Toss through the green spring onion just before serving.
- Serve with rice if you wish. Best eaten as soon as cooked to retain the best texture on the chicken. It will still taste good heated up the next day but the chicken coating will be softer.