I love when I figure out a good home-made version of a favorite restaurant dish. It’s easy on the wallet and I love knowing what is really in it. This meal is a regular request at this house. My son especially, asks for it about once a month. After a little tweaking, I’m happy to say, it’s about as close to actual Panda Express as you can get, short of pulling out the deep fryer or driving 38 miles.
Combine some fresh ingredients and take a little help from the store and you’re well on your way to a 30 minute meal. The key to the sweet flavor of Sweet Fire Chicken, is store-bought Thai sweet chile sauce. Even though I had never heard of it before, I’ve found several brands to choose from at the store. You can find it in the condiment aisle or the Asian aisle. The Frank’s brand I used above is in the condiment isle by their hot sauces. The other key, the fire, is good ole Sriracha. Gotta love Sriracha. If you don’t already have a bottle of that stuff, I hate to be the one to tell ya, but you’ve been living under a rock. If you don’t believe me… go watch the documentary. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Ok, so now that we agree on how wonderful Sriracha is, we can get on with making dinner! First you’ll dice up 2 red bell peppers, a large sweet onion, and 1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. Dredge the chicken in a little corn starch.
Then pan fry the chicken, remove from the pan and drain. Then quickly sauté the onions and bell peppers. It’s best if they still have a little crunch. Toss in a can of drained pineapple. Lastly, toss back in the chicken with the sweet chile sauce and some, you guessed it, Sriracha hot sauce! Stir it up and serve piping hot over steamed rice. There you have it! Your very own panda bowl, right at home!
Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken
By Katie Olesen
- 1.5 lb chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 can pineapple chunks (in 100% juice)
- 1 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce (more or less to taste)
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- canola oil
- Cook the rice according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, put cornstarch in large zip top bag with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cut chichen breasts into 1-inch cubes and place into the bag. Toss until chicken is well coated and set aside.
- Dice bell peppers and onion into 1-inch pieces. Drain pineapple. Set aside.
- Coat the bottom of a large skillet with canola oil and heat over med-high heat. When hot, shake excess cornstarch off of chicken and fry in batches until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- After all chicken is cooked, drain excess oil if necessary, leaving about 2 tablespoons of oil in hot pan. With heat still on high, quickly saute bell peppers and onion until crisp-tender. Add in pineapple, chicken, sweet chile sauce, and sriracha. Stir to combine and allow all ingredients to heat up, about 1 minute.
- Serve immediately over steamed white rice.
Yield: 4-6 servings