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Disappearing Sweet Chili Lime Chicken + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

For the recipes we share on the In the Kitchen With column, we always try to leave you with something you can use with other food you may eat, or something that may become a staple in your pantry. The second cookbook by Diana Kuan, Red Hot Kitchen, is the perfect book for staples. It features nine classic Asian chili sauces to make from scratch and recipes in which to use them. We chose the very simple Sweet Chili Sauce and accompanying Sweet Chili Lime Chicken recipes to feature this week because you can keep the sauce for so many things, and wow your guests at a potluck with the chicken! —Kristina

Diana Kuan is a food writer and photographer based in Brooklyn. She is the author of Red Hot Kitchen and The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. Her work has also appeared in Food & Wine, Time Out New York, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and Epicurious. In addition to writing and photography, Diana has taught cooking classes for the past 10 years in both Beijing and New York. Her favorite foods are dumplings, ramen, and tacos, usually with hot sauce on the side. Find out about Diana’s cooking classes at Appetite for China and her artwork at Plate & Pencil. Find her on Twitter here, and Instagram here.

For a chance to win a copy of Red Hot Kitchen, respond in the comments section below by March 15, 5PM EST to the following question: Which condiment(s) would we always find in your refrigerator / pantry at any given moment? We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: Red Hot Kitchen, Photography by Diana Kuan

Image above: Diana Kuan

Image Above: Sweet Chili Sauce

Image above: Sweet Chili Lime Chicken

Sweet Chili Lime Chicken

This is an entree that disappears quickly whenever I serve it at potluck dinner parties. It’s difficult to say which part is more addictive—the crunchy and airy texture, or the flavors of sweet chili sauce mixed with freshly squeezed lime juice. The shallow-frying method in the recipe will produce the same crisp texture as deep-frying without using a lot of oil, and you have the option of getting the chicken extra crunchy by double-frying for 30 extra seconds.

Serves 4 as part of a multicourse meal

Ingredients

  • Sweet Chili Lime Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1½ cups cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 8 dried red chilies (Japonés, serrano, Tien Tsin, or cayenne)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Scallions, green parts thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 5 fresh red jalapeño or Fresno chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preparation

1

1. In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce and egg whites. Add the chicken, toss to coat with the mixture, and let sit for 10 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce, rice wine, lime juice, sesame oil, and chili flakes. Set the sauce aside.

3. In a large bowl or deep plate, toss the cornstarch with the salt and black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess before frying.

4. Pour the 3 cups of oil into a wok and heat until the temperature reads 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in two or three batches, fry the chicken cubes until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes, flipping with tongs about halfway through to ensure even cooking. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Optional: To get the chicken extra crispy, work in batches again and return the chicken to the oil for 30 more seconds before draining again on paper towels.

5. Pour the oil out of the wok into a heatproof container and save for discarding. Wipe the wok with a paper towel to remove any browned bits, but don’t wash.

6. Reheat the wok over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the dried chilies, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry until just fragrant, about 20 seconds. Pour in the sauce mixture and stir until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

7. Return the chicken to the wok and stir well to coat with sauce. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions and serve.

2

Sweet Chili Sauce


Known as nam chim kai in Thai, sweet chili sauce is remarkably easy to DIY at home. While glass bottled versions from Thailand are widely available in Southeast Asian and Chinese markets in the US, I like being able to control the amount of sweetness and heat in a sauce I use almost every day. Plus, you can find all the ingredients at your local market, and there are no additives or preservatives.

You can use it in dips for appetizers like summer rolls and fried tofu, glazes for chicken or fish, and even salad dressings and desserts. I love using it plain as a dip for raw vegetables or dumplings, a fiery alternative to hummus and soy sauce, respectively. The sweetness is easy to control by varying the amount of sugar, and the heat by choosing the type of chilies you use. Red jalapeños or Fresnos are my favorite because they give a medium heat closest to store-bought versions of sweet chili sauce. If you use spicier chilies like serranos or Thai spurs, you will need to double or triple the number of chilies to produce the same volume and color (and take out the seeds unless you prefer a flaming hot sauce!) You can also experiment with other fresh chilies that you come across. If you’d like to kick up the umami flavor, add a couple drops of fish sauce to your batch. Feel free to double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe.

Makes about 1½ cups

1. In a food processor, combine the chilies, garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and ½ cup water and blend until pureed.

2. Transfer the mixture to a medium skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the liquid is slightly reduced. Whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved, then stir it into the chili pepper mixture. Cook, stirring, until the mixture has thickened, another 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to a bowl to cool and use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge. The refrigerated sweet chili sauce will keep for up to 1 month.

Reprinted from Red Hot Kitchen: Classic Asian Chili Sauces from Scratch and Delicious Dishes to Make With Them by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019, Diana Kuan.

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Comments

  • I have so many but always red pepper and garlic paste, fish sauce, hoisen, various soy sauces, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil

  • When my husband and I relocated from San Francisco to the Midwest a few years ago, I was heartbroken to find some of my favorite condiments weren’t so readily available. My BFF immediately sent me care packages of Sir Kensington’s ketchup and chipotle mayo to make the transition easier, and you’ll never see my fridge without them!

  • Laoganma brand chili oil, the one with the picture of a grandma on the label. Our family consumes so much I just picked up a bag of szechuan dried chili flakes to do some diy sauces. Now to find your book at the local library.

  • I always have some version of pesto at home – so good on tacos, breakfast sandwiches, and with pasta! If I don’t have basil, I’ll make a spinach or parsley pesto, but either way I’m always pumped for pesto.

  • Laogamna brand chili oils the one with a picture of a grandma on the label. In fact our family goes through it so fast I just picked up a bag of szechuan chili flakes to make some diy sauces. Now to check out local library to see if they have your book.

  • Oh goodness; ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, mustards etc. Currently I have sweet chili sauce! In fact, I just used a dab in my pot roast that called for tomato paste!

  • ketchup!!! eggs don’t fly without it, yo.

    Also, I always thought all filipinos eat their adobo with ketchup… but it was just my Dad… and then, in effect, me…

  • I always have mayo, mustard, catsup, 2 or 3 different BBQ sauces, sweet chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, and hot chili oil.

  • So many condiments in my fridge…ketchup, various mustards, tamari, chili garlic sauce, miso…

  • Shichimi Togarashi, I love to sprinkle it on everything- eggs, avocados, even pasta dishes.

  • Mustard
    We always open a too large bottle which somehow gets shoved back in the wrong place (kids!) and then open another too large bottle…and don’t use either of them fast enough
    (n.b. I almost never have sweet chili sauce-I use it as fast as I buy it. So, thanks for the recipe)

  • gochujang, chinese vinegar, soy, dashi teabags, ketchup and mayo. all these combine so well!

  • Worcestershire, soy sauce, balsamic, cider, and malt vinegars, several kinds of hot sauce, Dijon, and mayo.

  • I have tons of condiments, but I have a real fetish about mustards! I must have 10 different kinds in my fridge! Drives my husband crazy!
    digicats {at} sbcglobal {dot} net

  • I make my own red hot chile sauce from peppers I’ve grown in my garden, use it on so many dishes.

  • Mayo, so versatile and can be used with other flavors to create a nice sauce/dip/etc.

  • I always joke that the refrigerator of a true new yorker is filled with fancy, interesting condiments but little else, and I am no exception. I have tons that I like and keep in stock at all times (chili crisp, four kinds of vinegar, hoisin and oyster sauce, sweet onion jam, quince paste, kewpie mayo, sweet soy, tamari, fish sauce, sriracha and more), my two go-tos luckily come in tub form as I scoop out large dollops constantly of both doenjang (a korean fermented bean paste) and the true star: miso paste. I find that both lend a fullness and all-day-cooked-ness to my food with that extra umami that I love, and a certain saltiness without a sodium gut-punch. I especially love adding miso to dishes that aren’t Japanese in origin – like in my broth that I stir into mushroom risotto, linguine con vongole, or in an improvised italian wedding soup. If I won this awesome cookbook, I’ll probably sneak both into more than a few recipes!

  • I can’t wait to try this recipe. I must have, yuzu, tamari, liquid aminos, fish sauce and Pick a Peppa Sauce in my kitchen. Happy creating and happy feasting all!

  • Love hot sauces! I’ll stick to fridge stuff: I always have sambal oelek (I go through this stuff rapidly), sriracha (recently tried a super garlicy version that was awesome), my husband makes a really nice carrot-based habanera sauce we eat a lot of, kim chi, tomato salsa, fermented soybean paste, fish sauce, white soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, dijon-style mustard, tahini, a tub of miso paste, sesame oil, mayo, ketchup. (Plus of course the smattering of rotating others…) Thank you!!

  • Wow! I wish I had more than one copy to give away! I can identify with so many of your pantries– almost all of them! But Lena, you win! You have a friend who sends you care packages so you stay stocked up with your favorite condiments! That’s dedication.