Even though Les Petits Chefs have loved all the dishes we have made this term, they still talk about the chicken chow mein, weeks later. I thought it was time to show them what a proper “real food” sweet and sour dish was all about and used Jamie’s pork recipe and substituted chicken. As Jamie mentions below, this is a super quick dish – we were finished in 50 minutes with a fair bit of “down time”. The boys were amazed that you could make dinner in less than an hour. I would say this would take me about 30 minutes without little chefs under my feet so it’s a great go-to recipe for weeknights. The ingredients are generally all in my kitchen too!
Liam actually ASKED to cut the chicken after working with it for the first time last week and Oliver braved the jalapeno peppers (he washed his hands afterwards!). Charles took charge of the green onions and garlic with great gusto.
Jamie Oliver’s Sweet and Sour Chicken
Jamie says: OK, this is easy, but it’s a quick one, so you’ll have to concentrate and stay on the ball. Sweet and sour pork (or chicken!) is an absolute classic and was one of the first Chinese-style dishes introduced to Britain. I’ve tried to make it fresh, light and full of wonderful crunch, sweetness and flavor. I’ve also brightened it up by introducing some lettuce leaves, which add texture and freshness. It’s best to cook this for two – perfect, fast, one-pan cooking for nights in.
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup long-grain or basmati rice
• ½ lb. pork tenderloin, preferably free-range or organic
• 1 small red onion
• 1 red or yellow bell pepper (or ½ of each)
• A thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½ – 1 fresh red chile, to your taste
• a small bunch of fresh cilantro
• peanut or vegetable oil
• 1 heaped teaspoon five-spice powder
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch
• 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1x 8-ounce can of pineapple chunks
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 small heart of romaine or ½ butterhead lettuce [torn into large pieces]
• 2 teaspoons sesame seeds [toasted if desired]
To prepare your stir-fry
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and add the rice. Cook according to package directions. Drain the rice in a strainer, put back in the pan, and cover to keep warm until needed.
Halve the pork tenderloin and cut into ¾ inch cubes. Peel and halve the red onion, then dice into ¾ inch cubes. Halve the bell pepper, seed, and cut into ¾ inch cubes. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Finely slice the chile. Pick the cilantro leaves and put them to one side. Finely chop the cilantro stalks.
To cook your stir-fry
Preheat a wok or large frying pan on high heat and once it’s very, very hot, add a good lug of oil and swirl it around. Add the pork and five-spice powder and toss or stir them around. Cook for a few minutes until browned, then transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
Carefully give the wok or pan a quick wipe with a ball of paper towels and return to the heat. When it’s really hot, add 2 good lugs of oil and all the chopped ingredients. Toss or stir everything together and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Let everything cook for 30 to 40 seconds, then add the pineapple chunks with their juice, the browned pork and balsamic vinegar. Season with black pepper and a little more soy sauce, if needed. Break open a piece of the pork, check it’s cooked through, and remove from the heat. Reduce the sauce to a gravy-like consistency by cooking for a few minutes more.
To serve your stir-fry
Divide the rice and lettuce between two bowls or plates. Spoon the pork, veggies, and sauce over the top and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and reserved cilantro leaves.
Ummm… I think you could say it was a success. Charles pronounced it “outstanding”, whilst Oliver thought it tasted “very chicken-y” and Liam was too sleepy to come up with a scintillating adjective but he lingered over the tasting bowl the longest
From my perspective, this was way better than most takeaway/ takeout you would get. In the time you wait for it to be delivered, you could have made this yourself!