The Year of the Snake is upon us! Celebrate the passing of Chinese New Year with some homemade Chinese food. For a quick and easy meal, prepare this basic recipe for Sweet & Sour Vegetables.
When you have a hankering for Chinese food, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn making this from scratch can be quite uncomplicated and rewarding. Though "sweet" is in the name, packaged sweet and sour sauce tends to be overpowering and cloyingly sugary. Fortunately, you can make a delicious homemade sauce with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry (or which can be purchased at a standard grocery store rather than trekking to an Asian market).
This Sweet & Sour Vegetables recipe is quite obviously an example of Americanized Chinese cooking. In fact, traditional Chinese sweet and sour is primarily used as a dipping sauce rather than incorporating it during the cooking process, as commonly served here. Furthermore, the sauce itself is rather western -- in other words, it includes a tomato-based ingredient (in this case, ketchup) with the traditional combination of tangy vinegar and a sweetening agent.
Though the ingredients and style may vary, maintain Chinese authenticity by preparing this stir fry as strictly as possible. The true key to a Chinese stir fry is the method of frying. This distinction relies almost entirely upon a suitably heated wok (or saute pan, if that is all you have at your disposal). Essentially, you must begin cooking with a preheated wok and the vegetables must then be cooked over a high flame, thereby creating a distinctive flavor from the vegetables and hot metal referred to as "the taste of the wok".
This recipe is a great way to sneak extra veggies into your diet. It is astonishingly quick to prepare, yet has a wonderful flavor complexity. Be sure to enjoy the Year of the Snake with this Sweet & Sour Veggies recipe!
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
- 2 carrots, sliced into rounds
- 1 yellow onion, julienned
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 (8-oz) can water chestnuts
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups rice, cooked
Sweet & Sour Sauce
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp sriracha
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Begin by making the sweet & sour sauce. In a small pot, combine the white wine vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, ground mustard, sriracha and garlic salt. Whisk together the water and cornstarch in a small bowl; add to the pot once combined. Over medium-high heat, stir ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Cook until sauce has thickened. Set aside.
Over the highest heat available on your stove, heat a large wok or saute pan for at least a couple minutes prior to warming the oil. Next, add the onion, carrot and broccoli to the pan. Once lightly seared, add the bell pepper, zucchini and water chestnuts to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the sweet and sour sauce. Continue cooking until all vegetables are tender and cooked through.
Serve sweet & sour vegetables over cooked rice.