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Sweet-and-sour chicken not overbearingly sweet

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press

Caramel-based sauce is spiked with ginger, lime juice and fish sauce

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 12:01 am

The trouble with sweet-and-sour chicken is that the flavor is mostly sweet — too sweet — and weirdly acidic. It never seems to deliver on the satisfying balance of gently sweet and teasingly sour that I hope for.

But a recipe in a British food magazine recently inspired me to create a better version. The recipe in BBC GoodFood magazine was for caramel chicken wings, though I wasn't much interested in the wings themselves. It was the caramel-based sauce that intrigued me. Spiked with ginger, lime juice and fish sauce, it seemed just right for what I wanted.

The result is deliciously sweet, but equally tangy and savory. This isn't the gloopy red sweet-and-sour with pineapple and cherries you know from the takeout box. It is much better.

Sweet-and-tangy caramelized chicken thighs

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch strips

Scallions, thinly sliced, to garnish

Fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish

In large saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Bring to simmer and cook without stirring for about 10 minutes, or until sugar has browned and thickened to caramel. Stir in fish sauce, being careful of sputtering, then soy sauce, ginger and lime juice. Return to simmer.

Meanwhile, in large saute pan over medium, heat oil. Add chicken and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. When the chicken has cooked, use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the chicken (but none of the liquid in the pan) into the caramel sauce. Toss to coat chicken with sauce, then transfer it to serving platter. Top with scallions and cilantro.

Nutrition information per serving: 400 calories; 170 calories from fat (43 percent of total calories); 19 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 150 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 42 g protein; 1260 mg sodium.

Recipe adapted from the November 2013 issue of BBC GoodFood magazine