Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken FAIL

"My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor." -Phyllis Diller

Karl and I were riding high on our Kung Pao success, so we decided to run with this new-found asian-cooking ability and tackle one of my all-time favorite meals: Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Now I have to be straight up with you. As much as I greatly appreciate really good quality food, one of my guiltiest pleasures is Chinese-from-the-mall sweet and sour chicken. Those perfectly breaded chicken pieces dipped in that neon red sauce makes my mouth water every time. Call me crazy- but I could eat this stuff almost every night. I won't...but I could.

We found ourselves back on AllRecipes, and before long, we had a recipe that looked workable. After a quick trip to the grocery, things were under way. So then...what went wrong? It started when I realized just how low my blood sugar had gotten. We'd pushed dinner all the way back to 9 pm and the heat from the stove was nothing short of grueling. It wasn't pleasant, and I felt grumpy.

Karl took on the breading and frying of the chicken while I tackled the sweet and sour sauce. I'll tell you now- the sauce was more of a learning experience than anything else. Here's why: first up, we bought crushed pineapple instead of chunks- a mistake that was only a problem because the recipe requires the separation of the pineapple from the pineapple juice. Lesson learned? Be aware of what ingredients you'll need. Faux pas number two- I tried adding a bit of corn starch after the sauce had been mixed. A valuable lesson here too: always dissolve corn starch in water before adding it to a mixture or it will likely not mix correctly. In this case, we were left with balls of corn starch floating around precariously in the sauce. Last mistake is what threw us over the edge. It turns out that where the recipe first says pineapple, the writer meant pineapple juice. (There is a difference- I'm sure of it!) This was a resounding reminder to always thoroughly read through a recipe before starting.

At this point, we counted our losses and chucked the sauce. I drove up to the store, bought a can of chunked pineapples, and we tried one more time- this time according to the recipe. The only difference we had was replacing the red food coloring (seriously?) with maraschino cherry juice and 86ing the carrots.

The result? Not good.

Karl ate most of his but ultimately opted for some Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cereal. I managed to down most of mine as well, but all things considered- it just wasn't that good. Now I could be wrong here- maybe the difficulties in cooking ruined the end result for us- but I doubt it. This was just not meant to be. It wasn't sweet...it wasn't sour...and, oh man, it was just a huge let-down.

HOWEVER- I would really love a delicious, working recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken. If you have one, I beg you to send it to me and Karl so we can try it out! (newchefs@gmail.com) Or...try the recipe yourself and tell us what you think. Maybe we're wrong about it (but I doubt it).

As always, thanks for reading. Here's the link to the original recipe.

And here's a pic of Lucy the dog to make you smile:

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