My comfort food as a child, the flavor of sweet sour pork is even more delightful with the addition of plum sauce and oyster sauce to the basic sweet sour sauce.
It’s one of those dishes that most people think is so easy to make at home. And then, the surprise that it’s just not the same as the sweet sour pork served in Chinese restaurants. There are a few steps that just can’t be skipped to make restaurant-quality sweet sour pork.
The first is choosing the right cut of meat. Very lean pork just won’t do. Fat helps keep the meat moist and adds flavor as well.
The second is marinating the meat and adding just a bit of baking soda. Marinating the pork flavors it and the long marinating time allows tha flavors to reach the innermost portion. You just can’t rely on the sauce alone to flavor the dish. You need to flavor the meat first and then coat it with sauce.
The baking soda alters the texture of the meat making it softer with a lovely silky chewiness. Beware not to use too much baking soda though because it can give the meat a nasty taste.
The third is making the sauce properly. I use neither flour nor starch to thicken it. I just allow the ingredients to reduce until it reaches a syrupy consistency. If that sounds like an intimidating procedure and you prefer to use a thickener, make it tapioca starch.
The fourth thing is to never cook the pork and vegetables together. They require different cooking times and cooking methods. Cook separately then toss with the sauce. That’s how you get tender meat with lightly crisp vegetables.
Sweet Sour PorkRecipe by
- 500 grams pork cut into one-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon potato starch or tapioca starch or corn starch BUT NOT all-purpose flour or any wheat-based flour
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda (to tenderize the pork)
To fry the pork
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 1 small egg
- ¼ cup potato starch or tapioca starch or corn starch BUT NOT all-purpose flour or any wheat-based flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder (to create a very light crust)
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- 2 to 4 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper deseeded and diced
- 1 large green bell pepper deseeded and diced
- ¾ cup pineapple chunks
Marinate the pork
- Place the pork in a bowl.
- Stir together the soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, starch and baking soda, and pour over the pork.
- Mix well.
- Cover the bowl and marinate in the fridge overnight.
Fry the pork
- In a wok, start heating enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Mix together the egg, starch and baking powder, and stir into the pork to coat each piece evenly.
- Drop the battered pork cubes one by one into the hot oil and cook at 325F for seven to eight minutes or until cooked through.
- Scoop out the pork and transfer to a strainer.
Cook the vegetables
- In a large wok, heat the teaspoonful of oil.
- Stir fry the shallots and bell pepper for a minute.
- Add the pineapple chunks and stir fry for another fifteen seconds.
- Scoop everything out and transfer to a plate.
Make the sweet sour sauce
- Into the same wok, pour in the sugar and rice vinegar.
- Over medium heat, boil until the sugar is almost dissolved.
- Stir in the salt, grated garlic and ginger.
- Add the plum sauce and oyster sauce.
- Set the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the sauce until reduced and thick enough for a canal to form when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the sesame seed oil.
Finish your sweet sour pork
- Dump the pork, vegetables and pineapple into the sauce.
- Cook, tossing, until the pork cubes are coated with the sticky sweet sour sauce.