Mugua Ji (Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir-Fry)

  • Serves

    serves 4


Traditionally, this saucy stir-fry gets its sweet-tart flavor from mugua, or flowering quince. Green papaya is a good substitute. This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100, with the article Mugua Ji.


  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, cut diagonally into 1″ chunks
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each quartered
  • ¼ cups Asian chile paste
  • 2 tbsp. minced jalapeño or serrano chiles
  • 9 oz. thinly sliced green papaya
  • 6 ribs celery, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 (4″) piece ginger, unpeeled and cut into ⅛″-thick slices
  • ¼ cups Asian chile oil
  • Cilantro leaves, to garnish


Step 1

Stir together salt, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and 1 cup water in a small bowl; set slurry aside. Heat canola oil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok or high-sided skillet over high heat. Add potatoes; fry, tossing, until browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add chicken pieces to oil; fry, tossing, until browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate; discard all but ½ cup oil, and return wok to heat. Add chile paste and minced chiles; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken, papaya, celery, and ginger; cook for 1 minute. Add slurry; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add potatoes and chile oil; cook until potatoes are tender, about 2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

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