Use a can of lychee to cook this chicken and lychee in sweet & sour sauce. This unique take on a familiar dish will instantly be your family's new favorite dish.
This chicken and lychee in a sweet and sour sauce is one of my Mom’s staple dish to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Since the CNY (Chinese New Year) celebration lasts for 15 long days, and some families will gather for a big feast on the 15th day of CNY, I thought I would squeeze in one more dish appropriate for this occasion :)
This dish is extremely easy to prepare, and super fast too, especially since the chicken is cut into bite-size pieces. I actually like making this dish throughout the year and not just for Chinese New Year, and it is a great way to finish off those cans of lychee if you are lucky enough to be gifted this.
Exchanging gifts is part of the custom during CNY, and sometimes one can end up with many canned fruits or fresh fruits. So, usually during CNY, dishes with fruits will naturally crop up to take advantage of all those fruits. ♥
What's in this chicken and lychee dish
There are several components that make up this lovely dish: marinated chicken thigh, sweet and sour sauce, and the rest of the ingredients.
1. Marinated chicken thigh
We will need chicken thigh meat, cornstarch, salt, and grated ginger.
Cut the chicken thigh meat into bite-size pieces, then mix with cornstarch, salt, and grated ginger. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
2. Sweet and sour sauce with lychee juice
Unlike other typical sweet and sour sauce, this version incorporates lychee syrup from canned lychee. We will need tomato ketchup, lychee syrup, plum sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, ground white pepper, and drinking water.
If you don’t have plum sauce, you can substitute with the same amount of apricot preserves or orange marmalade.
Simply mix everything together. You can even adjust the taste of the sauce at this stage, adding more salt, sugar, or ground pepper as you wish.
3. The rest of the ingredients
For aromatics, we will be using onion, garlic, and red chilies. You can use red bell pepper for a children-friendly dish, though if you use mild chilies like Fresno chilies, the dish shouldn’t be too spicy.
Also, we will be needing lychee fruit drained from the canned lychee.
To thicken the sauce, we will be using a mixture of cornstarch and water.
For garnish, I simply use thinly sliced scallions.
How to cook this chicken and lychee dish
Once all the prep work is done, the cooking portion is actually very quick, so be sure to have everything ready before you start cooking.
First, heat oil in a wok over medium-high and sauté onion, garlic, and red chilies (or bell pepper) until onion is wilted and slightly translucent. About 3-4 minutes.
Next, add marinated chicken thigh and stir until no longer pink. About 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the sweet and sour sauce and bring to a boil. Adjust the amount of salt, sugar, or ground pepper as needed.
Add in lychee fruit and mix, then thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch + water).
Turn off the heat, transfer to a serving plate, and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.
Other sweet and sour dishes to try
My family is a big fan of sweet and sour dishes, and over time, I have accumulated quite a bit of sweet and sour recipes. If you are the same, you may want to try my other sweet and sour dishes too.
Here are some of my favorites:
Chicken and Lychee in Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 500 gram skinless boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite-sizes
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 red chilies (or 1 red bell pepper), cut into 1 inch squares
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 can (565 gram / 20 oz) of lychee in syrup, drained but reserve syrup for making the sauce
- cornstarch slurry (1/2 tablespoon corn starch + 1 tablespoon water)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
- Lychee syrup sweet and sour sauce
- 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/2 cup syrup from the can of lychee
- 1/2 cup drinking water
- 2 tablespoon plum sauce (or substitute with apricot preserves/orange marmalade)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Marinate chicken thigh with cornstarch, salt, and grated ginger for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. You can actually adjust the taste of the sauce at this stage with salt and sugar. :)
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok and sauté onion, garlic, and red chilies until the onion looks wilted and slightly translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add marinated chicken into the pan and stir until no longer pink, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour the sweet and sour sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Mix well and adjust taste as needed.
- Add the lychee and mix well. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch slurry.
- Turn off heat, transfer to a serving plate and garnish the sliced scallions. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.