Takeout-Style Sweet And Sour Chicken

For the chicken

2 large eggs, beaten

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups canola oil

For the sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium cloves garlic, smashed, then minced (scant 1 tablespoon)

2 thin slices peeled ginger root, cut into matchsticks, then finely chopped (1 tablespoon)

1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces (about ½ cup)

¾ cup water, plus more for the cornstarch slurry

½ cup canned pineapple chunks, plus 6 tablespoons of juice from the can (from one 8-ounce can; do not use pineapple chunks in heavy syrup)

1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Make the chicken: In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, cornstarch, flour and kosher salt. The batter should be liquidy enough to coat the chicken. If the batter looks too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and stir again. Add the chicken and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, warm the 2 cups canola oil to 350 degrees. Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the chicken and fry until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per batch, turning the pieces over halfway through. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Make the sauce: In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry just until fragrant (do not let the garlic burn), about 1 minute, then add the pepper and onion, stirring to coat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes (do not let the onion take on color), then add the 3/4 cup water, the pineapple and its juices. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the vinegar, sugar and ketchup and cook, stirring to form a red sauce.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 1 to 2 tablespoons water (just enough to form a slurry), then stir it into the sauce, which should thicken almost immediately. Add the cooked chicken and stir to coat the pieces evenly. Remove from the heat, transfer to a platter and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutrition (based on 6 servings) | Calories: 300; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 135 mg; Sodium: 400 mg; Carbohydrates: 27 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugars: 14 g; Protein: 17 g.

(Adapted from former catering kitchen cook Sheila Chang, of Silver Spring, Maryland, and "The Chinese Takeout Cookbook," by Diana Kuan. Ballantine Books, 2012.)

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