This shop and the accompanying recipe for baked sweet and sour chicken has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ChineseNYEats #CollectiveBias
I can’t believe it isn’t just New Year that’s come and gone, but the Chinese New Year is here on Monday already. Somehow. In our house, we have a tradition to celebrate the calendar new year with Chinese food from our favorite takeout restaurant, but on Chinese New Year we tend to be focused on cooking at home. While we sometimes forget, this year we have extra incentive to celebrate and remind my husband of the summer he spent teaching in China last year.
While he was there, he had the fun of exploring Beijing and seeing a lot of the city that most of us never will. On the day he came back to the States, my mom wanted to go out for Chinese to celebrate. While he wanted a little variety after eating nothing but very authentic Chinese food for over a month, anytime I suggest Chinese now, he’s all for it. This year, I’m making my favorite baked sweet and sour chicken along with homemade fortune cookies. We plan to have a family meal Monday night to talk about some of his favorite memories and then spend some time after dinner going through his photos.
Because it’s a school night, I know I’ll need to cook up dinner in a hurry. The fortune cookies I can make in advance, which makes things a little easy. As long as I keep them in a tightly sealed container, I can make them on Saturday or Sunday. Even though they aren’t authentically Chinese – he will be the first to point out that he had a grand total of zero fortune cookies during his stay – they’re tasty when made from scratch and the fortunes are always a hoot.
In fact, for this batch I made up some Chinese New Year fortunes that I will cut out and put in the fortune cookies. I shared yesterday how to make your own fortune cookies – and that patience and speed are the keys – and while I plan to have some Valentine’s focused fortunes for Little Miss’s class party later in the week, and I’ll often cut out some of my favorite jokes to put in them, Chinese New Year definitely calls for traditional fortunes, and this free fortune cookie printable has a ton to choose, far more than you would need for a batch of fortune cookies.
Dinner itself can be ready and on the table in a little over a half hour. Sweet and sour chicken – another Chinese restaurant staple that may not be the most authentic Chinese dish but is still oh so yummy – is definitely on the docket. Because I want to simplify dinner as much as possible so that I can help the wee ones with any homework and ensure I’m able to enjoy the dinner with my family, I picked up everything I need for my baked sweet and sour chicken to be ready as quickly as possible.
Wait, baked sweet and sour chicken? Yes, you heard me right. Baked. For those who are afraid of fryers or don’t own one or just would like to enjoy a slightly better for you dinner, this baked sweet and sour chicken is right up your alley. You still have the tang and crunch that you look for but without the frying. It’s simple to make, although I will warn you that you might end up with a slightly messy kitchen as you dredge your chicken. It’s all worth it in the end when you bite into your baked sweet and sour chicken and realize just how quickly you got your Chinese New Year dinner on the table.
Lucky me, I can head into just about any grocery store out there to get exactly what I need for this dish. What grocery store doesn’t have chicken, Minute Rice, cornstarch, eggs, Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Sauce, Panko Breadcrumbs, and Dole Pineapple Chunks (make sure to get the ones in 100% juice)? That is seriously the entire list of ingredients for this dinner. Easy peasy! I grabbed mine while shopping at my local Jewel-Osco – Asian section and canned fruits and veggies, so just two stops – where I can be in and out and home in under ten minutes.
Counting shopping time, even it (*cough* when *cough) I forget an ingredient, I can still have dinner on the table in way less than an hour, but the baked sweet and sour chicken doesn’t taste like I just whipped it up that quickly!
For this baked sweet and sour chicken, where I’m focusing on a slightly better-for-you version, I used the Minute® Whole Grain Brown Rice that gives a rich nutty flavor to the dish in addition to the having the same nutritional value as regular long cooking brown rice, but it’s done in just ten minutes! I feel like this whole baked sweet and sour chicken dinner is a score all around. My husband already asked me after my test go around to confirm that yes we really are having this again for Chinese New Year. Silly man!
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
Before you get started with your baked sweet and sour chicken, you want to get everything set up. This is one of the recipes where mise-en-place is crucial. Turn your oven to 400 degrees, then get your work station set up right away. You’ll need a bowl for the Panko (and I only put half in at a time then refill as I get low on the breadcrumbs), a bowl for the egg whites and water that you whisk together, and a bowl for the cornstarch. Set up your lined baking sheet right next to it, and only then do you want to start prepping your chicken.
Cut the chicken into bite size chunks. My family likes to enjoy their baked sweet and sour chicken a little bigger so that it’s two bites, but go with your favorite. Once your chicken is completely cut up, take a piece at a time and push it through the assembly line.
I find it easiest to use one hand to gently dredge in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess then dunking it into the whisked egg whites and water before dropping it into the Panko. I use my other (clean-ish) hand to cover the chicken piece with breadcrumbs and toss it in the Panko before placing the coated chicken onto the baking sheet. This keeps too much “goop” from building up on one hand. If you do all steps with he same hand, the Panko really starts to build up quickly and the egg also creates clumps in the Panko that make it harder to coat the chicken.
Repeat with each piece of chicken. Once the chicken is all coated – and for my almost two pounds that I make of the baked sweet and sour chicken (hello growing tweens and leftovers!), I use two baking sheets rather than trying to cram it all onto one – place the baking sheet into the 400 degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the Panko has started to turn a golden brown color.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Minute Rice. It’s super easy to bring water to a boil, add the rice and stir, cover when it’s back to boiling and turn the heat to simmer for five minutes. Stir again and remove from the heat for five minutes until all the water is absorbed. By the time my rice has finished cooking, my chicken is generally finished, as well.
The only other prep I need for my baked sweet and sour chicken is to drain the Dole Pineapple Chunks (but save the juice because it’s tasty!), which I can do while the rice is cooking. You’ll end up with extra pineapple, but that’s never a problem in my house where the sweet tangy flavor is a great complement to so many recipes, whether in a rice dish like this or as a dessert topping.
Once all that is done, add the chicken to a large bowl and pour half the Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Sauce over the chicken and gently toss to start coating. Once it is distributed, add the remaining sauce and toss again until it is all coated. Add the pineapple and stir (the wee ones like it when I add it and stir rather than adding it at the end!). Serve in a bowl over rice, and in just over a half hour total, your baked sweet and sour chicken is ready to enjoy!
- 2 lb chicken breast or tenderloins, cut into pieces
- 3/4 c cornstarch
- 5 egg whites
- 3 T water
- 2 c Kikkoman Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 c Minute Brown Rice
- 1 1/2 c Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 c Dole Pineapple Chunks in 100% juice, drained
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Set out bowls of cornstarch and Panko. In a third bowl, whisk together the egg whites and water until incorporated. Line two baking sheets with a sil pat or parchment paper.
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Dredge your first piece of chicken in cornstarch and shake off excess. Dunk in egg white, then drop into Panko and coat with breadcrumbs. Place onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining chicken, using both baking sheets as needed.
- Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until breadcrumbs are lightly golden.
- While chicken is baking, prepare Minute Brown Rice according to package instructions. Bring 1 3/4 cups water to boil, add 2 cups rice and stir. Return to boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, and cover again for 5 minutes until water is absorbed. Stir again and serve.
- Drain pineapple while the rice is cooking.
- Once chicken is baked, place in a large bowl and add half the Kikkoman Sweet and Sour sauce. Toss gently to coat, then add the remaining sauce and toss until coated. Add pineapple and stir to distribute. Serve immediately over rice.