Hot and Sour Chicken

I call this hot and sour chicken, not because it is following a hot and sour recipe from a particular place, but because I am using hot and sour flavours, and some of my favourites too. It is my hot and sour chicken, from my kitchen.

Chilli, garlic, tamarind, some savoury light fish sauce and lime make this chicken sing. A sprinkle of coriander lifts it right up before you serve it. Some fried or roasted peanuts for the texture, because you can, and because they are awesome. A little shredded spring onion (or scallions as I once knew them) freshen everything again. That says summer to me. The flavours sprinkle and mingle and dance as you eat them.

Use good chicken, as good as you can. A whole chicken, jointed yourself, or have your butcher do this for you. Or you can use a selection of legs and thighs as I have done. Marinade for an hour or two, no more, acidic marinades can toughen the meat over more time (and most marinades are acidic in part), plus they can make the surface of the meat mushy (by denaturing the proteins, but lets not worry about the detail). I use gorgeous fresh tamarind in the marinade, if you can’t source fresh tamarind, tamarind extract will do just fine. 

That is all the prep done. Now we can relax. Then before cooking, we add a little cornflour to dry it out, and help the skin crisp a little better. Then roast, grill or chuck it on the BBQ. I roasted mine before freshening it with coriander, spring onion, peanuts and zingy but not so hot fruity chillies as I served it. 

Pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Gorgeous with a crisp wine (gewurztraminer, riesling, maybe even a crisp Provence rosé) or a cold beer.


Hot and Sour Chicken
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Hot and Sour Chicken


  • 1kg jointed chicken or chicken legs and thighs, skin on
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 3 tbsp peanuts - fried in their skins, or roasted but not heavily seasoned
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 mild red chilli, finely sliced
  • 5 pieces of fresh tamarind or 1 tbsp tamarind extract + 100ml water, recently boiled
  • 1 fresh lime, zest and juice
  • chilli, as hot as you can handle (I used 1 fruity mild one and one hot finger chilli)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • sea salt
  • light oil for the roasting tray


  • Peel the fresh tamarind and soak the flesh in the boiling water (100ml is a rough approximation, you basically want to just cover it), for 20 minutes. Push the flesh through a sieve.
  • Add the lime juice, zest, chilli and fish sauce and mix. Taste and adjust accordingly for your taste.
  • Add the chicken and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Leave covered in the fridge for an hour. Then let it sit at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes (so that it cooks evenly). Salt lightly (the fish sauce is salty already).
  • Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
  • Add the cornflour and toss through (this will help the skin crisp a little).
  • Arrange on a lightly oiled roasting tray, skin side up and roast for 35 - 45 minutes until crisp and cooked through.
  • Serve with the chilli, coriander, spring onions and peanuts sprinkled on top.
  • Enjoy!



    Written by Niamh
    Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.