Sweet and Sour Chicken

photo of a plate of Sweet and Sour Chicken

This weekend I had the strangest craving for sweet and sour chicken. Growing up, we ate various sweet and sour dishes: fish, pork, beef and chicken. I never really cared for them though, which is why my sudden craving for it felt out of place.

While experimenting with this dish, I also solved the problem of keeping the fried chicken pieces crispy even after they’ve been sitting out and drenched in sauce. I’ve been struggling to find the solution for a while, but finally found one that worked. These fried chicken pieces stayed crunchy for hours.

close-up photo of a plate of Sweet and Sour Chicken

The answer? Vodka. Serious Eats recently experimented with General Tso’s chicken in its latest Food Lab edition. Kenji discussed that adding vodka to the breading would make the chicken pieces more crunchy. He actually did more than add vodka, but I thought I’d try only adding vodka to my egg whites and see if it helped and it did.

I’m really happy with how this turned out. As you can probably guess, once I start on an obsession, it usually lasts for a stretch of time, and right now my obsession is chicken. Hopefully you guys aren’t sick of my chicken recipes.
Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4

One problem with sweet and sour chicken is keeping the chicken crunchy even when it's been drenched in sauce. My version has a little vodka mixed with egg white that keeps the chicken crispy so you get the best of both worlds - crunchy chicken coated in the sweet and sour sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • egg white of 1 extra large egg
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • vegetable oil for frying

for the sauce:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp light sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in wok or other pot being used for frying to medium-high heat. Make sure you have at least 1 inch of oil in your pot. Whisk vodka and egg white in a small bowl. Place cornstarch in a separate small bowl. Dip chicken pieces in egg white and then coat in cornstarch. Gently place into heated oil and fry until golden brown. Work in small batches until all of the chicken is fried. Place finished chicken pieces on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

  2. In a small saucepan, heat all sauce ingredient except cornstarch and water and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Pour into boiling mixture and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Add chicken pieces into saucepan, until they are all coated. Remove and serve on plate, pouring on top any extra remaining sauce. Garnish with fresh scallions if desired.

Notes:

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

10 comments on “Sweet and Sour Chicken”

  1. Huh, vodka! Imagine that! Makes sense with the explanation about the gluten though. Great, now I need to buy some vodka… haha.

    • haha, I had a hard time finding vodka in my house too! I actually ended up using this expensive bottle someone had gifted me.

  2. I would never think of using vodka for breading chicken, that’s so cool! I would expect this to apply for fried chicken wings, other fried meats, seafood & veggies too?

  3. had to come back and comment on this, this was truly delicious!!!
    i didn’t think i would like the sauce since i can’t stand the smell of cidervinegar, and when it was bubbling in the pan i didn’t like the smell either, so i was worried, but when it came together all the flavors just worked so well together!
    will defintely make this over and over, so thank you!
    i will however use my own way to coat the chicken, taught to me by an indonesian woman, add some water to plain flour and mix it till it is a yoghurt like consistency, not too runny, not too thick, mix chicken in it and fry the pieaces, easy and for my personal taste i like those better. as crispy, or even more so

    allthough my boyfriend is Russian and he could appreciate the vodka part haha……

  4. does seem similar indeed! gonna try that next time, add a little cornstarch to it as well! and that next time will be soon, i know that! yumm!

  5. I made this today and it was so so good! wonderful! THANK YOU! 

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