Growing up in Nebraska, the closest family was nearly 8,000 miles away in Hong Kong and so our “family” was made of neighbors and co-workers of my Dad at the city utility offices. On the weekends, the adults would play cards, mah-jong (my parents taught everyone!) and have grand potlucks.
We spent many weekends with one of Dad’s co-workers, Walt and his wife Alice, who had a lovely backyard full of fruit trees. They were an older couple and became Jay and my substitute “Grandma and Grandpa.” I remember vividly the massive netting contraption that Walt would drape over the majestic cherry tree once the fruit started ripening to prevent darting bird-theives from snatching the prized fruit.
Every year in the summer, we’d be invited over for cherry harvesting, where the netting would be gently lifted off like a veil, revealing the layers and layers of branches holding bright red cherries ready for picking. The rest of the evening and days that followed were dedicated to pitting, pie-making and canning.
Walt and Alice both passed away long ago and I wonder if that cherry tree still stands? I’ve been temped to ask my parents for their old address to use Google Earth to peer into the backyard, but that thought just kinda creeped me out!
This recipe, Sweet and Sour Chicken with Cherries is a tribute to Walt and Alice. When we first moved to the United States, they welcomed us into their home and we became part of their family. Alice taught Mom how to bake Cherry Pie, Mom taught her how to Chinese Egg Rolls. They babysat me and my brother so that my parents could go out on a date. Alice patiently read some of my very first children’s books to me and helped me learn English!
You can use either sweet or tart cherries with this recipe – this is a sweet and sour dish, so adjust the amount of honey or vinegar based on how sweet your cherries are. I love my Sweet and Sour Sauce – it’s a healthy version that uses orange juice for a nice fruity zing. If fresh cherries aren’t in your life right now, feel free to use another fruit – both fresh pineapple and mango work great. Oh, I’ve even used frozen, pitted cherries in the recipe with great results as well.
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Cherries Recipe Video
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Cherries
- 6 ounces boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
- 1/2 onion, cut into 1” chunks
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cherries (2 handfuls), pitted and halved
- 1/2 red pepper, cut into 1” chunks
- 1/2 yellow pepper, cut into 1” chunks
For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- In a bowl, toss the chicken meat with the soy sauce and cornstarch.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce.
- Heat a wok or saute pan over high heat. Swirl in just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil. When hot, add in the marinated chicken. Spread chicken out all over the surface of wok in single layer. Let cook for 2 minutes, undisturbed, until browned. Flip chicken pieces and brown the other side, about 1 minute. Chicken should be browned but still uncooked in the middle. Remove chicken from wok and set aside.
- Keep the wok on stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Swirl in the remaining cooking oil. When hot, add the onions and stir fry for 1 minute. Add in the cherries, red and yellow bell peppers. Stir fry for 2 minutes, until the bell peppers are cooked, but still colorful and crunchy.
- Add the partially cooked chicken back into the wok and pour in the sweet and sour sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook an additional minute, or until the chicken is fully cooked through. Careful not to overcook the chicken!
I made this exactly per the recipe. Delicious! It is a perfect base recipe that begs for many variations. My wife commented that it could use more crunchy elements. Next time, I’ll add water chesnuts and bamboo shoots. Also maybe some carrots and celery. I love that the sauce is so flexible. Next time I’ll add minced garlic and bump the acid quite a bit because we like the sour more than the sweet. I can also think of many vegan and vegetarian versions and it is naturally gluten-free (assuming you use gluten-free soy sauce). Thanks for sharing!
Perfect, tastes amazing.
I loved your Sweet &Sour chicken with cherries. I now have to wait for cherries to arrive in Québec. I wonder if you have a récipé for crispy lemon chicken?
Jaden, I am loving exploring your beautiful website! I am living in Guangzhou, and made this dish tonight with our ‘ayi’s’ help. 🙂 The whole family really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your excellent work with the world!
This food makes my appetite bigger, looks very pleasant and so colourful. Very keen to make it for my own.
Sweet cherries would be perfect for this recipe.
I went by my childhood home a last year and it was rather depressing seeing the entire neighborhood so run down, but the sycamore trees that I climbed countless times still were there. I wanted to go climb them but I thought the owners might object 😉
Oh how we love having sweet and sour chicken…it is such a treat,but this yummy version with cherries looks like an awesome twist over the mangoes,the colors are so vibrant with cherries speckled here and there, a must try for this weekend… 🙂
I love your website. ;). I am on a strict diet so I can’t really eat a lot throughout the week, but I cook on Sundays. Inspirational!
I’ve tried several of your recipes and they are all fantastic! Will have to try this with Mango’s…here in Australia we have awesome varieties! Cheers,Carrie
Could you send the company name and website where you got that wonderful table? I remember that it was in Eastern Canada and you did a write-up on it.
Wow! What a delicious and easy recipe. I just watched the video and can’t stop staring at it. Bookmarked it. Never thought to use cherries in sweet sour chicken. But now you just inspired me. Thanks for sharing, Jaden!
I love this new spin on Sweet and Sour Chicken. Must attempt this one day.