It’s no secret that I love fried foods, enough to eat it at least three or four times a week. Fried chicken is my usual go-to meal either delivered or cooked at home, but another dish that I can’t get enough of is tangsuyuk (sweet n sour pork), a classic Korean-Chinese dish that is a favorite among kids and adults. Traditionally made with pork, I decided to substitute it with a healthier, kid-friendly option: chicken breast. The cooking instructions are practically the same, with the final results being crispy pieces of chicken in a sweet, tart, and sour sauce filled with hearty veggies. It’s been about three years since I last did my tangsuyuk recipe, so make sure to give this time-tested recipe a try.
Tangsuyuk (sweet n sour pork), jajangmyun (black bean noodles), bokkeumbap (fried rice), and jjambbong (spicy seafood noodle soup)—by far the most popular fast-food dishes in Korea—are Chinese in origin but have a distinct and modified Korean taste to them. They have been around in Korea for such a long time that it’s quite possible that the current generation of youth might even think of them as uniquely Korean. Regardless, joonghwa yori (aka Korean-Chinese cuisine) will always be my Achilles heel because it’s just so quick, addicting, and relatively cheap—a winning combination in my book.
A short anecdote: I still remember hearing and seeing the insane delivery guys on motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic trying to deliver their meals as fast as possible. And lucky me, I got to meet one of them personally as a delivery guy blindsided my Honda motorbike. Despite suffering some scratches on my bike, it was hard to berate the guy simply because he immediately began apologizing and bowing at 90 degrees in a show of forgiveness. Since I came away from the incident unscathed, I let him go do his thing and advised him to drive safely. He sped off faster than our initial encounter. Thinking back, I guess this might be the reason why I no longer visit the Kangnam area anymore….specifically the intersection next to Kyobo Bookstore.
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” ~ M. F. K. Fisher
- 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 1 medium size onion, cut into chunks
- bell peppers, cut into chunks
- 1 bunch wood ear mushrooms (if available)
- 1 small carrot, cut into thin strips (if available)
- 1 can pineapple, chunks or slices
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
- For the Batter:
- ½ cup flour
- 4 tbsp corn or potato starch
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 egg white
- salt and pepper
- Sweet n Sour Sauce:
- 1½ cup of water
- 2 tbsp corn starch + equal parts water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ cup canned pineapple juice
- *Extra light olive oil and sunflower oil are great options to use when you deep-fry foods. They have a high smoke point and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Other good options include safflower and peanut oils.
- Cut the chicken into thin strips, about 1 or 2-inch pieces. Season with salt n pepper, set aside for 10 mins.
- Cut the vegetables into large bite-sized pieces. Set aside until the sauce is ready.
- Make batter by mixing the flour, cornstarch, water and egg white. Mix until the batter has a light, runny consistency.
- Coat the chicken pieces in cornstarch, dust off any excess starch, and then dip into the batter until fully coated.
- Bring canola oil to medium high heat (or approx. 350 degrees). Deep fry each of the strips for about 5 minutes for each batch or until golden brown and cooked through. When finished, place on paper towel-lined dish or wire rack to remove excess oil. Fan dry them for extra crispiness.
- To make the sauce bring the sauce ingredients in a small pan, minus the cornstarch + water mixture. Bring to a rapid boil until sugar dissolves, then add the mixture of cornstarch and water. Reduce to low while stirring until thickened. Sample and adjust accordingly. Add desired vegetables and let simmer for a few minutes.
- Combine chicken and sauce together before transferring to a plate, or serve separately depending on preference. Happy eating!