Ken's sweet & sour chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
- Ken Hom, Guest Chef
¾ pounds Skinless, bnls chicken brst
1 tablespoon Rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon Light soy sauce
½ teaspoon Salt
1 Small green bell pepper
1 Small red bell pepper
1 Carrot
2 Scallions
1 Egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 cups Oil, preferably peanut
3 ounces Canned lychees, drained or 1 fresh orange in segments
⅔ cup Chicken stock
1 tablespoon Light soy sauce
½ teaspoon Salt
1½ tablespoon Chinese white rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
1 teaspoon Water

Properly made sweet and sour is a delicate balance of flavors, not the heavy, overly sweet combination you tend to find in this country. CUT THE CHICKEN INTO 1-INCH cubes. Put the cubes into a bowl together with the rice wine or sherry, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and ½ teaspoon salt, and marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the green and red peppers into 1-inch squares. Peel and cut the carrots and scallions into 1-inch chunks. (The uniform size of meat and vegetables adds to the visual appeal of the dish.) Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the carrots in it for 4 minutes, then drain and set aside. Mix the egg and cornstarch in a bowl until they are well blended into a batter. Lift the chicken cubes out of the marinade, put them into a batter and coat each piece well. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large wok until it is almost smoking.

Remove the chicken pieces from the batter with a slotted spoon and deep-fry them. Drain the deep-fried chicken cubes on paper towels. TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, salt, vinegar, sugar and tomato paste in a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Add all the vegetables, but not the lychees or oranges, and stir well. In a small bowl, blend together the cornstarch and water. Stir this mixture into the sauce, and bring it back to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the lychees or oranges and chicken cubes. Mix well, then turn the mixture onto a deep platter. Serve at once.

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