Sweet and Sour Chicken – a proper ‘fakeaway’


Less than £2 a head and under 300 calories per portion, without rice!

From re-creating your favourite curry to making lower calorie burgers, healthy cookbooks are awash with ‘fakeaways’ these days. And don’t get me wrong, these recipes are welcome and have their place. But try as they might, some of them still don’t hit the ‘spot’, particularly with curries which omit staple restaurant ingredients like ghee to keep the fat content to a minimum. My philosophy is if you’re in need of a blow-out and want to be naughty, then treat yourself to a takeaway, PROVIDING you get back on your diet the next day.

But there are ‘fakeaway’ exceptions which do genuinely (in my opinion) taste like the ‘real thing’. Sweet and Sour Chicken from the Hairy Dieters is one of the more authentic fakeaways I’ve made – I think Chinese takeaways in general are easier to recreate at home based on the required ingredients. This recipe requires only two chicken breasts and will comfortably serve 4 people for less than £2 a head, without rice. The sweet and sour sauce with the pineapple and ginger is to die for!

Serve this in a takeaway carton to your nearest and dearest and see if they notice the difference. Or just serve it them anyway. If you’re interested in fakeways, check out the relevant section on this blog here, and if Chinese floats your boat, Yeung Chow Fried Rice, is another excellent recipe to try, courtesy of Pinch of Nom.

Recipe: Sweet and Sour chicken

Calories: 288 calories per portion (without rice)

Serves: 4

Book: Hairy Dieters – How to Love Food and Lose Weight

Prep time: Approx 25 minutes

Cooking time: Approx 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion (cut into 12 wedges)
  • 2 peppers – red, green, orange or yellow (cut into chunks of about 3cm)
  • 225g can of water chestnuts
  • 25g chunk of fresh root ginger (peeled and finely grated)
  • Ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • 425g can of pineapple chunks in natural juice
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 150ml water
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

Cost per portion: Approx £1.57 per portion (without rice)

Method: To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml. Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining juice and the water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Cut each chicken breast into 8 or 9 even pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for 2 minutes over a high heat. Drain the water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30-60 seconds.

Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4-6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times. Serve with a small portion of rice.

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