Continuing Adventures in Chinese Take-Away

We love take-aways in our house. Indian, Chinese, Pizza – even a bit of Thai every now and then. Its all good. Except of course it isn’t – its all salt, fat and yet more salt. So I’ve taken it on myself to try and create my favourite take-away creations. It started with Chinese Curry. Very nice too.

Now I thought we’d try Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls. My all-time favourite. All that luminous sauce poured over gooey, semi crispy balls of water-infused mass-produced chicken – very yum.

But how easy is it to recreate in the kitchen? Not that easy as it turned out. First try finding a sweet and sour sauce recipe that sounds and looks like the local take-away version. Not easy. And just how do they get that delicious coating on the chicken?

For a Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls you will need:

  • Two corn-fed chicken breasts
  • Plain flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Water

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 100ml water
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 50ml light soy sauce
  • 75ml rice wine vinegar
  • 50ml tomato ketchup

It should be dead easy. Should. But as with many things, the fewer the ingredients the trickier it actually turns out.

First make the batter. Put everything in a bowl (flour, baking powder, salt, water) and whisk until smooth; set a side for an hour.

Now prepare your sauce. Stick everything in a pan and bring to the boil, whisking. Simmer for a bit and then set aside. TIP: don’t tinker with the ingredients – I made this sucker 3 times because for the first two I kept adding things and screwed it up.

Now make the chicken balls: Put on a pan of oil to heat up and cut the chicken into cubes. Dip in cornflour, then in the batter, then put in the hot oil for a couple of mins. Then take out and drain.

Where’s the batter gone? All over the place except on the chicken.

They should not be properly cooked at this point. Once you’ve fried all the balls once, pop them in the oven and then warm up the sweet and sour sauce a bit.

Now get your balls out, dip them in the batter again and refry those bad boys.

Because, in reality, the batter is rubbish. You need the oil to be really hot but because the batter is just flour and water, it jumps off the chicken as soon as its in contact with the oil – makes a right mess of everything.

Having said that they weren’t bad – just a bit more McDonalds than take-away…the kids would love them, except I’ve eaten them all! Sorry kids.

5 thoughts on “Continuing Adventures in Chinese Take-Away

  1. try to velvet the chicken beforehand – you can find the technique online, and you will be surprised how close to the real take away chicken it is

  2. I’ve tried a few times making homemade sweet and sour PORK, but it always failed because I don’t deep fry like you did.
    Mine turns out fine and edible, bu nothing like the real restaurant food.

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