If you grew up in the 1960s or 70s, pineapple chicken was probably on the menu at your house. Back when international flavours were unfamiliar and exotic, this dish seemed different and quite fancy compared to standard North American fare.
The downside? Most versions were salty, included too much sugar, and relied on canned pineapple for that tropical touch. Updating this classic recipe to reflect today’s tastes was easy, and the results are delicious. You can also do much of the prep work ahead of time, making it fast to assemble at dinnertime.
For the sauce:
3/4 cup (175 mL) pineapple juice (fresh or canned)
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger root
3 tbsp (45 mL) soy sauce
3 tbsp (45 mL) honey
3 tbsp (45 mL) rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil
1 – 2 tbsp (15 – 30 mL) Asian Chili-Garlic Sauce (to taste)
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
For the chicken and vegetables:
4 boneless chicken breasts, in 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup (90 mL) cornstarch
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) freshly ground pepper
2 – 4 tbsp (30 – 60 mL) canola oil
1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 large red pepper, in 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, in 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/2 cup (125 mL) minced green onion tops
1/2 cup (125 mL) salted cashews
cooked brown rice, to serve
Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shaking well to blend.
Chop all ingredients before beginning to cook.
Put cornstarch and pepper in a small bag and shake to blend.
Dredge chicken pieces, a handful at a time, in the cornstarch mixture. Place them on a clean plate, in a single layer. This can be done up to an hour before cooking time; refrigerate chicken until needed.
When ready to assemble the dish, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat.
Add chicken pieces to the pan in batches so they are not too crowded and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove cooked pieces to a clean plate and add more oil as needed. The chicken can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated for up to an hour.
When chicken has been cooked, add a tiny bit more oil to the pan and cook carrots, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add peppers and cook for 2 minutes more. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.
Return cooked chicken to the pan and drizzle sauce over top and cook, stirring gently, for 3 – 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.
Serve chicken mixture and sauce over cooked brown rice and garnish with minced green onion and cashews.
Serves 6 – 8