Chinese food part 1: sweet and spicy takeout chicken

I only started cooking a few months ago, but in that short time I've seen myself improving vastly. I have also played it fairly safe, and by that I mean I stick to the same flavors and just mix and match them.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that (we all know how much I love garlic, paprika and buffalo sauce!), but as a food blogger I feel like I have a responsibility to challenge myself and provide you guys with some variety.

So each week, schedule permitting, I am going to pick a new and exciting dish, method or style and document my attempts to mix things up!

For my first week, I let Ken (the best friend, photography and tech wizard, and taste tester for those of you just joining us) pick the style. He of course chose Chinese food, which was convenient because we already bought these cute plates and bowls. I myself am not the hugest fan of Chinese food, but that's not because I don't like the flavors as much as I'm a little (ok, a lot!) OCD and I don't like my food touching each other.

Fun story, I actually spent 3 weeks in China when I was 16. It was exciting and beautiful, but because I was still in my chicken fingers and spaghettios phase, the food was way too different for me. I ended up losing about 10 pounds.

But I feel like my tastes have matured enough to try it again! On our menu we had:

  • Sweet and spicy takeout style chicken on top of white rice (this post)
  • vegetable lo mein (upcoming post)
  • Chinese tea and fortune cookies

I know these are probably American-style Chinese food recipes, but until I master the techniques I'll stick with these. 🙂

Sweet and Spicy Chinese Takeout Chicken

Because I always end up picking the meat out of the takeout box and leaving the veggies, I chose this simple recipe for my first foray into Chinese cooking. And it was so delicious! Ken burned the chicken a little bit, but it only worked in our favor I think, sealing in the intense flavor.

The key to this recipe is the sriracha chili sauce. It's what gives it a nice bite, but if you like your chicken a little milder, feel free to cut back.

You will need: 

  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (here's a how-to)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5-6 tsp. sriracha hot chile sauce (this is WAY more than the original recipe called for, but according to Ken, "Sriracha is the nectar of the Gods")
  • 3-4 chicken breasts cut into chunks (the original recipe used thighs)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • canola oil, for cooking

In a small saucepan, mix together the brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic cloves and sriracha. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it is thick and viscous.

Coat the chicken in the flour.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides.

Pour in the sauce you just made and stir to evenly coat the chicken. Cover the skillet and cook for a few minutes (don't walk away and get distracted, this is when it burns!) until the sauce is sticky and shiny.

Serve over rice.

For our first attempt at a meal mixing familiar (chicken, garlic) and novel (ginger, soy sauce, sriracha) ingredients, this was phenomenal! The sauce was very spicy, but it had a hint of sweetness to it, which was fun.

It tasted like something you would order at a Chinese restaurant, and the smell of the sauce reducing on the stove really brought me back 7 years to when I was in Beijing. I'll try and dig up a picture of me in China for the next post!

Recipe adapted from DinnerwithJulie.com 

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