I wanted to treat the boys to a Chinese banquet and a film while dad was out at the weekend, so I did some research about how to make sweet and sour chicken. Quite a few online sources pointed to a recipe from one particular website, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and claimed it to be better than takeout, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The recipe is quite simple. You dip chicken breast pieces in seasoned corn flour then egg (in that order, yes) then flash fry to crisp the outside, keeping the inside raw. Then it’s baked in the oven at 160C in its sauce for surprisingly, the best part of an hour – which sounds bonkers, but doesn’t overcook the chicken somehow.
The sauce consists of 3/4 cup granulated sugar (my gums recede just thinking about that much sugar!), 4 tbsp ketchup, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp garlic salt. Mix it together and pour over the chicken pieces in a baking tray. When it comes out of the oven, the sauce is reduced to a nice sticky coating. Next time, I would probably make extra to drizzle over the rice.
The recipe is easily made gluten free by using gf corn flour (I use Brown & Polson), and tamari soy sauce. I didn’t have garlic salt so I used a combination of garlic powder and regular salt.
I also made Yotam Ottolenghi‘s steamed aubergine with sesame and spring onion, from the Plenty More book. This was published in the Guardian in 2012, so here is a link to the recipe. Unusually (in my experience), you peel and steam the aubergine for half an hour. When it’s cool, you tear it into strips and add a dressing made from rice vinegar, mirin, tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup, ginger and garlic. Top with toasted sesame seeds and sliced spring onion. I used a bit less garlic than the recipe and pan fried the spring onion briefly for a less raw flavour, in an attempt to make it more kid friendly. They still preferred the sweet and sour, unsurprisingly!
I bought a packet of pre-cooked prawn crackers that seemed ok for coeliacs, and a supermarket crispy seaweed portion. Neither of these things are available gluten free at my fave (only?) coeliac friendly Chinese restaurant, Hui Wei, so they were a bit of a treat for me.
It was a lovely meal. Hats off to the chef.