I have this unhealthy food obsession. Particularly with Chinese food. I'm not sure how it started-- did I come out of the womb wanting egg rolls and won ton soup? (My husband jokes about how if we did adopt a little girl from China one day she would naturally know how to cook Chinese food-- like it's hereditary or something)... anyways.
I'm pretty sure this addiction started when I was in third grade. I often went over to my friend Heather's house after school and her mom sometimes took us to this wonderful Chinese buffet (which years later I learned they may or may not have also served cat there). But I was young and ignorant, and did not think such things could happen.
As I walked up to the steaming buffet of Westernized Chinese food, my eyes bulged as I surveyed the glorious array of foods before me. I scoured the big platters of chicken lo mein, kung pao chicken, crab rangoons, egg rolls, sesame chicken and lastly-- sweet and sour chicken. I didn't realize then that fried food was bad for you so I ate as much as I could. I feasted.
This affair followed me into my high school years, when I would order Chinese food at least once a week, sometimes twice or more. It was a treat to get it in college, often buying it on a Friday night to settle into a nice movie night by myself. Chinese food is a huge comfort food to me. I was afraid to actually try making the stuff (especially when I didn't even know how to cook in the first place), but then I was afraid I wouldn't be able to mimic the taste found in cheap buffets.
But then I thought, Why not? It's about time Elena made her own. And for the record, I don't often talk to myself in third person.
I found a great recipe online and attempted to make one of my favorite unhealthy dishes, sweet and sour chicken. I have to use a foot stool to reach our tiny oven on the second shelf (limited counter space) and I stood up there waiting as I salivated for nearly an hour. When we finally sat down to eat, I stabbed a chunk of chicken and tasted all of the flavors I was expecting-- tangy but sweet, with a lightly crusted exterior. It was like being right back at China Pavilion.
I added veggies, so it's semi-healthy right?
The salivating has started again...
Sweet and Sour Chicken:
from My Kitchen Cafe
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. cornstarch
salt & pepper
1/4 c. canola oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut chicken breasts into chunks and season with salt and pepper. Coat chicken in egg and then in cornstarch. Pan fry in oil until golden brown, but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish (all of my pans-- which is really just an 8x8-- were all in use so I used a loaf pan.... turned out okay anyways).
3/4 c. sugar
4 T. ketchup
1/2 c. vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. garlic salt
Mix all ingredients together and pour over chicken. Bake chicken for 60 minutes, turning every 15 minutes. You can also make extra sauce-- add all ingredients and simmer until thick. Serve with rice.