I love everything about this Firecracker Chicken ~ the vivid peppers, the tender chunks of chicken, and the fiery sauce ~ it’s SO MUCH BETTER than takeout!
This Firecracker Chicken is part of my take out from scratch series. Everything I’ve made so far has been spot on, from PAD THAI, to CASHEW CHICKEN, and TIKKA MASALA. and I’m not stopping till I’ve mastered every one of my favorite take out dishes. I used to think that the only way to get these classics was to head on out for the evening, or to pick up the phone and order in. But I’m slowly realizing that I’ve had it in my power to make them for myself all along. You know the only thing these restaurants have that you don’t have? Authentic spices and condiments. They’re waiting for you right in the grocery store, and if you stock them in a little section of your refrigerator, this awesome power can be yours, too.
This dish is so inviting, with the multicolored sweet peppers and the chunks of chicken in a fiery sweet and sour sauce. I mixed regular supermarket bell peppers with smaller varieties from the farmer’s market. Some Thai chili peppers and Italian Calabrian peppers provide the fuse that ignites the fireworks. But don’t worry, you can use standard colorful bell peppers and any hot peppers you can find, including jalapeno.
Everything in this dish gets flash cooked, so really the most time consuming part is chopping the peppers and mixing the sauce. Once you do it once or twice, you’ll be able to mix up the sauce by eye and it’ll go even faster.
You don’t need a farmer’s market these days to get splashy colored peppers. Pick out nice bright specimens for this dish. I only cook them briefly to take the raw edge off, but I like to preserve the bright color and crunchy texture. The bright colors are what make this meal so much fun.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, or tenders
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten free flour)
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
- vegetable oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 4 cups chopped multi-colored bell peppers
- 2-3 hot red peppers
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (substitute orange or pineapple)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp plum sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 5 green onions, thinly sliced
- sesame seeds
- Mix the sauce in a measuring cup --- whisk together the juice, soy sauce, hoisin, honey, plum sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. In another small container mix the cornstarch with a little water to make a thick liquid. Set both aside.
- Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Whisk the egg, cornstarch and flour together with a tablespoon of water. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Pour oil into a wok or frying pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Heat the oil to about 340F. Working in batches, drop the chicken into the egg and cornstarch mixture,coating it completely, and then into the oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Wipe out the pan, and heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
- Add the peppers, both sweet and hot, to the pan and stir fry for another few minutes, just until the peppers have lost their 'raw' edge. They should still be bright and crunchy.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and heat through.
- Shove the food to one side of the wok and pour the sauce into the pan. Tilt the pan so the sauce can come to a boil. When it boils, stir in a little of the cornstarch mixture, just until it thickens, You won't need it all.
- Stir the sauce into the peppers and chicken. Heat everything through.
- Serve hot over rice, garnished with sliced green onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
The key to this dish is really the flash cooking, or stir frying. Peppers quickly lose their crunch and color if they are overcooked.
You have to make this, it’s amazing. And then we have to think about what’s next on our list of take-out favorites to conquer. I’m open to suggestions…
*You can find Chinese take out boxes HERE.