Sweet + Sour chicken balls

As much as I like to pretend that I’m sophisticated in my food preferences, when it comes to a takeaway all I really want is a pile of sweet + sour chicken balls. There’s just something about them that I find both comforting and exciting, a bit like walking around holding a takeaway coffee in normal times, or at the moment just seeing a friend in real life and not over zoom. Simple things eh? Serves 4 with sauce to spare.

Ingredients

Chicken:

1 cup plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp free flowing salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk (160ml)

1 tbsp oil + plenty for deep frying

4 chicken breast fillets, 3cm cubed

Sauce:

2 cups orange juice (pineapple would work too)

6 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp tomato purée

4 tbsp ketchup

6 tbsp white wine vinegar

6 tbsp cornflour

3/4 cup water

Method

  1. Get cracking on the sauce.
  2. Put all of the ingredients (bar cornflour + water) into a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix the cornflour and water together and slowly mix into the sauce a little at a time, stirring nonstop, until the sauce is as thick as you’d like it to be and the cornflour has cooked out, losing most of the cloudiness that it adds to begin with.
  4. Put the sauce to one side while you make the chicken (you can put the sauce back on the heat to warm up when the chicken is nearly ready).
  5. Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl or jug beat together the eggs, milk and 1tbsp oil, then pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well until it forms a smooth batter.
  7. Tip the chicken into the batter and mix well, ensuring that each piece of chicken is fully coated.
  8. Heat about 5cm depth of oil in a deep saucepan (you need it deep enough for the chicken to not touch the bottom of the pan) until it reaches 170C – hot enough to sizzle but not immediately burn the chicken.
  9. Use a spoon or two to lift pieces of chicken out of the bowl and place them into the hot oil, and fry in batches for around 6-7 minutes per batch until cooked through. If you have a food thermometer you’re looking for a temp of 74C, but I also check that each batch is done by taking out one chunky piece and cutting it in half – it should not be even vaguely pink, if it is then keep on cooking.
  10. When each batch is cooked lift out the chicken using a slotted spoon and place them on a kitchen towel lined plate, and move on to the next batch. I normally need to do about three batches.
  11. By the time its all cooked you might find you need to pop the first pieces back into the oil to heat up a little, then serve them up with the sauce and plenty of rice.
  12. Leftover sauce can be bagged up and frozen which is handy. I’m assuming leftover chicken doesn’t happen!

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