Sweet and Sour Pork

To many people, sweet and sour pork is synonymous with bad Chinese takeout food: lumps of chewy pork wrapped in thick batter, covered with a gluey and sickening sweet and sour sauce. However, when well made—crisp outside yet tender inside, topped with a well-balanced sweet and sour sauce—this is one of the most appetizing Cantonese dishes.

Recipe courtesy of "Yan-Kit's Classic Chinese Cookbook" by Yan-Kit So, copyright 2006.

Sweet and Sour Pork

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    1 pound (450 grams) pork sirloin 2 teaspoons potato flour, for sauce
    1/2 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons water, for sauce
    1 teaspoon thin soy sauce 4 tablespoons pineapple juice, for sauce
    3 tablespoons cornstarch 3 tablespoons rice or wine vinegar, for sauce
    peanut or corn oil for deep-frying 4 to 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar, for sauce
    2 1/2 tablespoons peanut or corn oil 1/4 teaspoon salt, for sauce
    1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 2 teaspoons thin soy sauce, for sauce
    1 onion, skinned and roughly chopped 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup, for sauce
    1 green pepper, halved, seeded and diced 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, for sauce
    4 ounces (115 grams) canned pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved 1/2 egg


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    • 1

      Cut the pork into pieces about 1 by 1 1/4 by 3/4 inches (2.5 by 3 by 2 centimeters). Put into a bowl.

    • 2

      Add the salt and soy sauce and let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Stir in the egg to coat thoroughly.

    • 3

      Dredge the pork, piece by piece, with the cornstarch, making sure it is evenly coated. It is not necessary to use up all the cornstarch.

    • 4

      Half fill a wok or deep fryer with oil. Heat to a temperature of 350°F (180°C), or until a cube of stale bread browns in 60 seconds. Add the pork and deep-fry for about 1 minute in 1 or 2 batches; separate the pieces with a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon if they stick together. Drain on paper towels. This step can be done ahead of time.

    • 5

      In a bowl, dissolve the potato flour in the water and pineapple juice. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and stir to blend. (This can be made in advance.)

    • 6

      Heat a frying pan or saucepan (unless you have another wok) until hot. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and swirl it around. Add the garlic and onion, stir a few times and then add the green pepper. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes over medium heat and season with salt, if desired. Add the pineapple chunks. Pour in the well-stirred sauce and bring to a boil slowly, stirring constantly.

    • 7

      Reheat the oil for deep-frying to a higher temperature, 375°F (190°C), or until a cube of stale bread browns in 50 seconds. Add the pork and again deep-fry in one batch for about 2 or 3 minutes, to ensure that the outside is crisp and golden without the pork inside getting dry. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a warm serving plate. Reheat the sweet and sour sauce and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. This prevents the sauce from being gluey. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the pork. Serve immediately.

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