Wish Upon A Dish: Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken All Grown-Up

January 26, 2012

Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken All Grown-Up

I am not a fan of 'diet' dishes especially frozen ones. They tend to be flavorless, have thick viscous sauces, have no spice and desperately in need of some loving. I know why people don't stick to diets. They taste terrible.

No reason for that, so I decided to take basic diet dishes and pump up the volume.

First remake is Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken. Can often be gloppy (the cornstarch) or bland (the sauce) and just about as good as eating a frozen dinner.

The key to a good remake is to crunchify the chicken (we all love texture), crunchify the vegetables and tickle the sauce till it sings in your mouth. I took out the obligatory ketchup and used a tomato instead. There is enough sweet in this sour for the kids. All this can be done with the same nutritionals as the boring old one.

This would be the perfect dish to make when you have all those vegetable platters left over after your Super Bowl party.

Here we go........

Pumped Up Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken
Serves 2

* 1/2 pound chicken breast meat, cut into 1/2" x 2" strips
* 2 teaspoons vegetable or peanut oil
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch (for dredging)
* gallon plastic bag

* 1/2 cup each thinly sliced green, or red, or yellow peppers, sliced onions
* handful of pea pods, julienned
* 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

* 1/2 cup drained canned crushed pineapple in natural juice (you could use fresh)
* 2 tablespoon Thai-Style Chili Sauce
* 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon water
* 1/2 packet (about 1/2 teaspoon) instant chicken broth and seasoning (I use Goya)
* 1 large plum tomato concassé (or 1/4 cup petite diced tomatoes, drained)
* 1/4 cup diagonally sliced scallions

* 1 cup bulgur or brown rice, cooked (optional)

1. Place pineapple, chili sauce, vinegar, soy, water and instant chicken broth granules in a blender and puree. Taste for sour and add more vinegar if you need to. You want an even balance of sweet to sour. Reserve.

2. Place cornstarch in zip bag, drop in chicken and shake to evenly coat. Pour into a fine sieve and shake the excess cornstarch off.

3. Place a cast iron or stainless steel pan on the stove and heat for 5 minutes on high heat. You need a pan screaming hot and a non-stick will not do (over 400° the coating starts to peel off, NOT GOOD). Spray with Pam and also add 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once you start to see smoke, drop the chicken pieces in and stir, and stir, and stir. Once the chicken is cooked, add the pea pods and add another teaspoon of oil. Drop in the onions and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat until crisp tender. Add the garlic and pea pods, lower the heat and add the sauce. Once the sauce comes to a bubble, add back the chicken and any accumulated juices and heat through.

Sauce should be thick and coat the chicken, if it is too thin, just simmer for a minute, uncovered. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve with brown rice, or bulgur.

Each serving provides (not including bulgur):
3 Protein Exchanges
2 3/4 Vegetable Exchanges
1 Fat Exchange
1/2 Fruit Exchange
15 Optional Calories

Review: Light consistency, but highly flavorful sauce with tender, juicy chicken. Not your usual take out. I would definitely make this again. Huge flavor in a healthy dish, the nutritionals are phenomenal. The Nudge liked the nuttiness the bulgur provided but brown rice also accomplishes this.

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