I am convinced that this dish is a concoction of some Westernized Chinese restaurant. In China, chicken is considered to have such a delicate flavour that it would be a travesty to flavour it with a sweet-sour sauce: beef, yes; pork, yes; chicken, and especially chicken breast, no. Again, I imagine a proprietor thinking, ‘Westerners love sweet-and-sour pork; why not chicken, of which we have many leftovers?’
Here I offer a more balanced, more authentically Chinese approach: the sweet-sour sauce is muted so as not to overwhelm the chicken; and I use chicken thigh meat, which can better stand up to an assertive sauce.
Cut the chicken into 2.5 cm (
Mix the batter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl with a whisk and beat until smooth.
Heat a wok or deep pan until it is hot, then swirl in the oil. When it is slightly smoking, turn the heat down. With chopsticks or a whisk, blend the chicken batter. Put the chicken in the batter and mix well. Remove the chicken from the batter with a slotted spoon and deep-fry the pieces for 3 minutes in several batches. Place the deep-fried chicken pieces on a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain.
Blend all the sauce ingredients in a small pan and warm through until the sugar dissolves.
Place the deep-fried chicken on a platter, drizzle the sauce over it, garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.