Recicember Day 8: Sweet and Sour Chicken

Enough cakes! Well, for now at least. Today’s installment of Recicember is something entirely different.

Sweet and Sour Chicken is a staple of Chinese takeaways in the west. I imagine there aren’t that many Chinese takeaways in China, and if there are, they’re probably just called “takeaways”. This sweet and sour chicken┬áprobably bears little resemblance to what you might eat in China on a day-to-day basis, but we won’t let that trouble us. I feel that may be more of a problem for them to sort out than for us to dabble with.

And best of all, this is my recipe! So no moaning about Jamie Oliver or Mary Berry or Martha Stewart. Probably.


Chicken (or whatever meat you fancy) – about a handful per person
Red bell pepper
Tomato ketchup – lots
Vinegar (rice wine vinegar is traditional, but white or malt will do) – a splash or three
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Chilli powder
Soy sauce
Pineapple chunks
Sesame seeds (for class)


‘Ow ta mek it

  1. Chop up the chicken into edible-sized chunks. Hurl said chicken into a wok or (very) large frying pan over a lowish heat.
  2. Chop up the onion, chuck it on top of the chicken.
  3. Leave it a minute or two, then mix it up
  4. Chop up the red pepper into strip. Lob it in.
  5. Mix it again, and then give it some time until the chicken is about cooked. You can test this by eating some. If it’s still raw, don’t eat it.
  6. Squirt in a whole bottle decent amount of ketchup. Honestly, put in more than you think, because it will reduce. Or evaporate or something.
  7. Splash a bit of vinegar on top of the ketchup. Don’t use too much, or you’ll need a kilo of sugar to balance it out. Jamie Oliver would not like that, because sugar isn’t good for you. That’s not a complaint, just an observation.
  8. Season the sauce with black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. This is the holy trinity of seasoning. Try it on anything. Even chips. It’s pretty much what McDonald’s put in their burgers to make them taste nice.
  9. Add some chilli powder. Don’t go over the top, you can add more in a bit if you need to.
  10. Turn up the heat and mix up the sauce in the middle of your pan. It’s OK if you mix some chicken with it, but just let it do it’s thing for a minute or so.
  11. Pour a dollop of sugar on it, mix it in the sauce, then mix the sauce through the chicken. If you’re Martha Stewart, you can add a few eggs here. If you’re not Martha Stewart, don’t bother, it’s not an omelette. (Sorry Martha, “omlet”…)
  12. Taste it. If it’s too sour, add sugar. If it tastes like vinegar, add sugar and seasoning. If it tastes like ketchup, add more of everything else. If it has no bite, you need chilli powder.
  13. Happy with the taste? Add a couple of splashes of soy sauce.
  14. Chuck in some pineapple, mix it around.
  15. Give it another 30 seconds or so to warm up the pineapple, then throw it on a plate.
  16. Simultaneous to all the above, learn how to make egg fried rice, or just nuke some microwave rice. Arrange it all nice on the plate with the sweet and sour.
  17. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top so it looks class.
  18. Tip it down your throat.

See? Classy Chinese deliciousness in just 18 steps. If I were Mary Kaye Wossname from Day 3 we could have done this in two steps:

  1. Turn the hob on
  2. Make sweet and sour chicken with rice and put it on your plate

But we’re not MK Dons, so lets leave it at that.

TL;DR: Made sweet and sour chicken with tomato ketchup. Didn’t get angry at anybody. Much.


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