Posts Tagged ‘takeaway recreation’

…or the dish that’s going to harm our relationship with our favourite Chinese takeaway!

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice

Sweet and sour chicken is a bit of a favourite of Rob’s; throughout university he spent many an evening with a jar of Uncle Ben’s and since discovering the joys of cooking from scratch has always intended to give it a go properly. Personally, I’m not really a fan – I find the sauce can often be leaning too far to the sour side and, let’s be honest, it can look rather radioactive at times! When Rob suggested trying it for dinner I could have just let him go ahead and made myself some pasta, but I was feeling lazy and as he was easily convinced to throw some egg fried rice into the bargain I thought I’d take the risk. Very glad I did, it was absolutely delicious!

We’ve made chicken chow mein before but, while it was very nice, the lack of takeaway greasiness actually felt like a bit of a shame! With tonight’s sweet and sour chicken though it was a completely different story. The freshness of the ingredients really lifted this; chunky pieces of tender chicken breast, crunchy peppers, juicy pineapple (okay, that was from a tin) and perfect egg fried rice.

The sweet and sour chicken was adaptation from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook (an adaptation in so much as we didn’t have all the ingredients!) while the egg fried rice was just something Rob had filed into his head at some point!

Sweet and sour chicken with egg fried rice
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 mins (plus 30 mins for marinating)
Cooking time: 25 mins (you can reduce this by cooking the chicken and rice simultaneously – we have only one wok!)

For the chicken:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (diced – approx. 300g total)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 small can (227g net) pineapple chunks in juice (drained and juice reserved)
1 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tbsp groundnut oil
1/2 green pepper (seeded and cut into chunky pieces)
1/2 red pepper (seeded and cut into chunky pieces)
1 medium white onion (cut into chunky pieces)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
salt and pepper

For the rice:
1/2 cup (approx. 90g) basmati rice
1 medium egg
a handful of frozen peas (defrosted)
groundnut oil
salt and pepper

If, like us, you intend to cook the sweet and sour chicken before the egg fried rice, preheat the oven to low temperature so the chicken can be kept warm.

1. Prepare the marinade by mixing the soy sauce with a teaspoon of the pineapple juice. Stir in the chicken pieces until they’re well-coated, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cook the rice using whatever method works best for you and set aside.
3. Make the remaining pineapple juice up to 150ml with water, stir in the cornflour and set aside.
4. Heat the oil (for the chicken) in a wok, add the chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until golden all over. Lift out and set aside.
5. Add the peppers and onion to the wok and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the pineapple juice/cornflour mix and ketchup and cook for a few minutes until thickened.
7. Return the chicken to the wock along with the pineapple chunks and heat through. Season and then transfer to a ovenproof dish and keep warm in the preheated oven.
8. Clean the wok (or get another one!) and add a generous amount of oil (you can add more later if necessary). Bring to a medium heat (you don’t want to burn the egg!).
9. Beat the egg and add it to the wok. Allow the egg to cook for a couple of minutes until it resembles a small omelette.
10. Stir the rice and peas into the egg, breaking up the cooked egg in the process. Cook for 3-4 minutes, continually stirring.
11. Serve up the rice with the chicken and enjoy!

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chicken dhansak

For years and years I’d always order the same dish whenever I went for a curry. Chicken dhansak, a hot and sour parsi dish of chicken in a thick, spicy sauce with lentils, was recommended to me by a friend and afterwards I never tried anything else. Lentils make the sauce healthier than when cream is used, add to the fibre content of the dish and fill you up faster so you don’t eat as much… except that never happens to me when I go for a curry – papadums, naan, rice and of course a refreshing cold beer are all accompaniments and I rarely leave without consuming an entire day’s calories in one sitting.

I’ve tried cooking chicken dhansak few times in the past, but never with much success. The first time was when I was at university and after tearing the packet of lentils when trying to open them (and covering the floor with tiny red blobs) I eventually ended up making enough to feed an entire household as I got my quantities wrong and forgot to consider that lentils absorb water and expand. Sadly it didn’t taste too great either and I begrudginly ate the leftovers over the forthcoming few days, mostly because I couldn’t afford not to.

There’s a pack of split red lentils in the cupboard so I thought put them to good use and try making dhansak for dinner tonight. Whilst browsing the internet for inspiration and recipies, I came across a video on videojug called ‘how to cook chicken dhansak‘. Initially I wasn’t that impressed – there are plenty of recipes online and this one didn’t appeal – but after watching it again I realised that I know the restaurant that the lady in the video came from. It always used to be busy so, taking that into account, I thought it must be worth a try.

The recipe was simple to follow although I was confused about the order of some of the steps in the method. It states to start frying the chicken (which takes 20 minutes) before boiling the lentils (which take 30) and as such I ended up cooking the chicken for thirty minutes. Although it was over a low heat this was way too long and not surprisingly it ended up quite dry.

After an hour or so of cooking it was time for dinner. I was very impressed – it was the best dhansak I’ve made by far. There wasn’t as much sauce as I’d have from a takeaway so next time I’d add a few more lentils and a bit more water, but apart from that (and the dry chicken) there was not much wrong. In the future, I reckon it would be better frying the chicken 5 or so minutes before the cooked lentils are added.

Still not as good as the takeaway but it’s a start!

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