Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eli's Sweet and Sour Chicken for #RandomRecipeChallenge

Easy, sweet and sour chicken, the Indonesian way, from the recipe book of one of my dearest friends. This is MJ and Jim approved!

Many years ago, and I mean MANY years ago, we lived in Balikpapan, Indonesia.  You may have heard me mention it before, at least once or twice.  I was blessed in that location by several good friends who made a tiny oilfield town with hardly anything to recommend it (We are talking 1989, folks.) one of our very favorite places to live.  I am thrilled beyond words that one of them is living in Dubai and we get together quite often.  It’s like we’ve never been apart.

When I read the instructions for this month’s Random Recipe Challenge where we are supposed to borrow a cookbook from someone else and make a random dish from it, I decided to ask MJ for her help.  She not only lent me her personal cookbook of handwritten recipes, but she chose the recipe for me.  It’s a dish she learned from her sweet maid while she lived in Balikpapan.

Eli made it by heart and, as you see by the evidentiary photos, there are no amounts and hardly any instructions, so MJ told me what to do and I did my best.  The amounts, I came up with on my own.  I don't think a recipe can get more random than that!

But I think I did all right because I brought a serving over to her house the next day for a critique and she and her husband both declared it delicious and well done!   I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did.

1 lb 6 oz or 625g boneless chicken breasts (more or less)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2-inch piece fresh ginger
1 tablespoon butter
1 small red bell pepper
1 small green bell pepper
1 hot red chili pepper
5 oz or 140g pineapple (fresh or canned in juice, not syrup - about 4 slices, drained)
3/4 cup or 180ml ketchup – any brand
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup or 65g flour
Olive oil for pan frying

Cut your chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  Season with the salt and a good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper.  Stir well and set aside.

Mince your garlic and ginger.  Cut the onion in half and then cut it into thick slices.

Chop your green and red bell peppers into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the pineapple into small chunks. Mince the red chili pepper.

Sauté the onion with the butter and a little drizzle of olive oil.

When the onion has browned slightly but is still crunchy, add in the garlic and ginger.  Sauté until they are all golden but be careful not to burn the garlic.

Remove the garlic, onion and ginger from the pan and set aside in a small bowl.

Heat the pan until quite hot and stir-fry the bellpeppers for just a few minutes, until they get some little charred bits on them.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

For the sauce, put the ketchup, chili, vinegar and the sugar in a small pot with about 1/4 cup or 60ml water.

Give it a good stir and then add in the pineapple pieces and the onion, ginger and garlic.

Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  The recipe calls for some cornstarch to thicken it but MJ says she has never used it and I didn’t find it necessary either.

Add the flour to the chicken bowl and stir with a fork, gently prying the pieces of chicken apart with the tines to make sure that the flour has coated all sides of all the pieces.

Add a little olive oil to the pan and fry the coated chicken in two or three sets, keeping the chicken pieces in a single layer and removing them to a paper towel-lined plate with they are cooked through and are well browned on both sides.

Right before you are ready to serve, toss the peppers back into the pan with the chicken and warm through.

You can add the sauce and stir to coat.  Or simply pile your chicken and peppers on the white rice and top with the sauce to serve.

Either way, enjoy!

If you would like to join dapper Dom at Belleau Kitchen for this or future challenges, head on over to his website or his Facebook page and say howdy!

Challenge #24 - Another Country


  1. This looks so good! I just brought chicken out of the freezer for dinner tonight - I have about everything and if I can find pineapple in the pantry, I will be making this tonight!

  2. Hope you like it, Kelli! That was my favorite part of the recipe, I usually have all those things on hand.

  3. I love the Random Recipe challenge. I've entered it twice now. This chicken dish looks wonderful.

  4. Thank you, Sally! I like the randomness of the challenge since it usually makes me use cookbooks that otherwise languish in my shelves. In this case, I have a new favorite that I never would have even known about!


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