Between the advent of bottled Asian sauces and the readiness of takeaway Chinese food, I wonder how many people have ever made their own sweet and sour sauce or if they realise how easy it is. The taste is exquisite, with no MSG or any of the other 'additives' that have become the norm in our food these days. Water, vinegar, sugar, pineapple juice and cornflour. So easy, you'll never look back. Serve over steaming hot Hokkien noodles or make your own Sweet and Sour Chicken or Pork.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 tin pineapple pieces in natural juice
¾ cup water
¼ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons water
3 green shallots, sliced
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 green capsicum, chopped
1 cup finely sliced celery
Drain pineapple, reserve juice. Combine pineapple juice, water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. In a cup combine cornflour with 2 tablespoons water. Stir until smooth. Add to sauce mix, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Set aside. In a large frypan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and stir fry shallot, capsicum and celery for 1 minute until soft. Toss through pineapple pieces and warm through. Stir through sauce and cover and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
1 kg chicken breast fillets, cut into 1cm thick strips
½ cup cornflour
¼ cup water
Oil for deep frying
Combine cornflour, water and egg in a bowl. Whisk until smooth.
Heat oil in large saucepan or wok until hot. Add a third of the chicken strips into mixture, making sure each piece is coated well. Lower into oil, cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Drain on absorbent paper. Repeat twice with remaining mixture. Keep warm. Stir through sauce with vegetables and heat through.
Variation: Sweet and Sour Pork – substitute chicken with pork fillets.
Life for us has been all about survival on a shoestring budget. I've learnt how to live on very basic (and cheap) staples and I cook from scratch and don't buy prepackaged mixes of anything. I've raised three happy and healthy kids and I believe that food is central to good communication and a happy and connected life!
I have an unpublished cookbook manuscript that lives on my kitchen bench. This is the collection that I have fed my family from for many years, all made from a core list of practical and economical ingredients. The manuscript is splattered with butter, flour and milk from daily use. It moves between the kitchen and the office as I edit and test-kitchen the recipes.