The Sweet & Sour Chicken is a mainstay item in almost all Chinese restaurants in the Western world, with its signature, as the name suggests, sweet and sour taste. However the recipe did not originate in China, but rather in the China Towns of the United States. The Chinese immigrants there found that their somewhat spicier items did not go very well with the Western palette, so they came up with some alternative and sweeter dishes. You can guess what recipe came out of that! Sweet & Sour Chicken!
Usually the Chinese use the sweet and sour flavour for fish recipes rather than for chicken and serve it on the side for dipping. In fact the Chinese are quite amused with the Western fascination with the Sweet & Sour Sauce based dishes.
Sweet and sour dishes are not unique to China. They are enjoyed by many cultures and cuisines. South East Asian and Indian food have some sweet-sour items, but generally tend towards the sour and salty. In West Asia, Middle East and North Africa the sharp and sweet qualities of fruits such as apricots and pomegranates are utilized in meat dishes. Even our very own Britain has its sweet and sour combinations such as chutneys and brown sauces which are very popular.
Chopstix combines the classical association of the Oriental Five Flavours of: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent and Bitter. The Chinese do not use as much sweet as we do, and their recipes tend to be more on the bitter side creating the sweet and sour flavour by mostly mixing vinegar with sugar. We do have more of a sweet tooth!
For the Chinese, food is treated with utmost respect, and is associated with health, luck and prosperity. Even though at Chopstix we have our own fusion twist on the Sweet & Sour Chicken, we do treat our food with the same respect and associate it with the same values. The Sweet & Sour Chicken is one of our most popular toppings and we can’t imagine not having it on our menu.