Many of us order “Sweet & Sour” dishes at Chinese restaurants and enjoy them. Whether chicken or duck and sometimes even beef, these meats are frequently batter coated, deep fried and then coated with the sweet and sour sauce.
This is a purely “steamed” vegetable dish – perfect for vegetarians, vegans AND meat eaters! You steam the vegetables while you mix together the sauce ingredients, cooking it by boiling to get rid of the ‘floury’ taste of the cornstarch and give it that rich, smoothness without the gelatinous stuff we remember from years ago.
As the recipe notes, you can add pineapple chunks if you want; a topping of salted cashews or almonds gives a nice added crunch and looks pretty on top.
And for those who absolutely MUST have their protein in this, you can cut up chicken in bite sized pieces, steam them in a little chicken broth (start it a little before the vegetables to be sure they cook through), then add the drained chicken to the vegetables and there you have: Sweet and Sour Chicken (with almonds or cashews) at home and out of the deep fryer!
Chinese Sweet & Sour Vegetables
- 2 c broccoli florets
- 2 medium carrots, diagonally sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced (short strips)
- 1/4 c water
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/3 c unsweetened pineapple juice **
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. dark sesame oil
- 1/4 c chopped, fresh cilantro (or diagonally sliced green onions) or both
Combine broccoli, carrots and red pepper in large skillet with tight-fitting lid. Over medium heat, add water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium and allow to steam for 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender.
While the vegetables are steaming, combine the cornstarch and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in the pineapple juice, soy sauce and vinegar until smooth.
Drain vegetables in a colander; do not rinse. Whisk cornstarch-soy mixture again and add to skillet and cook and stir 2 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens. It should become almost clear. Add vegetables back to skillet and toss with sauce .(If you are using chicken, add it here with the vegetables.) Stir in sesame oil and garnish with cilantro (and/or sliced green onions).
** If you wish, you can add drained pineapple chunks to this dish. If you want to do this, add them when you add the vegetables back to the sauce and stir a few minutes longer to ensure the pineapple is heated through.