I have provided two very different recipes for sweet and sour pork, the traditional Cantonese version and a Thai version that uses oriental noodles instead of rice. I know you will enjoy both of them. Have fun!
Cantonese Sweet and Sour Pork - ☺♥
I really enjoy making and eating the traditional Cantonese version of Sweet and Sour Pork. It is easy to make and very tasty, and it is a complete one dish meal. I realized that I never followed any given recipe, but instead created my version. I was attempting to clone what was served to my great friend, Dora Clark, and me when we would eat lunch in local Chinese restaurants in Wilmington, DE back in the 1970’s. I succeeded … well at least I was close. Recently I realized my recipe was missing from Food Nirvana and I decided to provide it … modified to some extent by reviewing various recipes from the Internet. Thus, the recipe below is a composite of my recipe and what I discovered from the Internet. I can guarantee that if you like Chinese food you will love this dish.
Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)
1 pound of pork tenderloin (you can use either raw pork or previously roasted pork)
2 to 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tsp. of cornstarch
1 cup of raw rice (medium or long grain white rice)
2 cups of water brought to a boil in a small covered saucepan
1/2 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of ketchup
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of reserved pineapple juice from a 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits or chunks
1 cup of duck sauce (buy it in one quart quantity at an Asian market or at your supermarket)
1/3 cup of rice vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup of water (determines the final thickness of the sauce)
½ cup of maraschino cherry syrup and/or ½ tsp. of red food coloring (I use both)
3/4 cup of flour
3/4 cup of cornstarch
2 to 3 egg whites, lightly beaten with a whisk (two if the eggs are jumbo, otherwise use three eggs)
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 cup of warm water, as needed
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
10 maraschino cherries cut into quarters
2 cups of canned pineapple chunks or tidbits
3 cups of vegetable oil for deep-frying
Mix the one cup of raw white rice into the two cups of boiling water in a small saucepan. Then simmer the rice on very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes (15 if the rice is parboiled, otherwise 20 or up to 22) with the saucepan covered. Turn off the heat, mix the rice briefly and keep the saucepan covered until serving time. Alternatively, you can put the cooked rice into a one quart bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in a 200 degrees F warming oven until it is served.
Cut the pork into ½" by ½" by ¾" roughly rectangular pieces. Marinate the pieces in the mixture of the soy sauce and cornstarch for 20 minutes.
To prepare the sweet and sour sauce, combine and mix all the sauce ingredients in a one quart bowl. Set the mixture aside.
Peel the carrot and shave it into thin slivers about two to three inches long using a potato peeler.
Cut the bell peppers in half, remove the seeds and light membrane and cut them into thin slices about 3/8" wide and 1 ½" long. If you are using pineapple chunks then cut them in half.
To prepare the sweet and sour sauce, bring the sauce ingredients to a gentle boil in a two quart saucepan over medium heat, adding the carrot, green and red pepper and pineapple pieces before heating. Stir the sauce while it is heating to keep the mixture uniform and to assure even thickening as the sauce begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring. Remove the sauce from the heat after one minute.
Adjust the sauce seasoning, adding salt and/or rice vinegar if desired.
Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and put it into a 200 degrees F warming oven.
Heat the vegetable oil to 375 degrees F in a large wok or in a large deep skillet.
For the batter, combine the flour and the cornstarch. Add the egg whites and the vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of the warm water. Use a whisk to mix the batter ingredients. Add as much of the other 1/2 cup of warm water as needed to form a batter that is not too thick or too thin. The batter should not be runny or thick. If it is too thin you will see uncoated pork areas after frying. If it is too thick the fried pork pieces will have a fried coating that is too thick, which detracts from the dish by masking the pork with too much fried coating. The idea is to test the batter by frying one or two individual pieces of coated pork and observing the results … then make any necessary adjustments to batter thickness. If it is too thin then add a tablespoon of flour and mix well. If it is too thick add two tablespoons of water and mix well.
Put all of the marinated pork pieces into the batter, mix gently to coat them, and then extract and deep-fry them in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the wok. Use tongs to extract each piece of battered pork from the batter, shake it gently to eliminate excess batter, and then put it into the hot oil. Deep-fry the pork pieces until they are golden (but not brown) in color. Check one or two pieces by cutting them in half to make sure the pork is cooked through if you used raw pork. No checking is necessary if you used previously roasted pork or if you used raw pork and intend to do a second frying. Adjust frying time as necessary to assure thorough cooking of the pork but do not allow the fried batter to cook to the point of becoming dark as that will ruin the dish. Remove the fried pork pieces from the wok and drain them on paper towels to remove any surface oil.
If desired you can deep-fry the pork briefly a second time just before serving it to make it extra crispy. That is what I like to do as the resulting crispness provides a perfect combination of different textures in the final dish. Make sure the oil is back up to 375 degrees F before you begin the second deep-frying. A very short frying time of about one minute will suffice after putting all of the pork pieces into the oil at once. Drain the oil from the fried pork pieces by putting them on a paper towel, no more than one layer thick.
If you have to delay the meal then the pork pieces should be kept warm in a 200 degrees F warming oven. Alternatively, the second frying can be delayed until you are ready to serve the meal.
Using individual pre-warmed serving bowls, put the pork pieces over a bed of hot white rice, then ladle the hot sauce over the pork.
Serve ... and enjoy! This is a very tasty oriental dish.
Thai Sweet and Sour Pork with Oriental Noodles - ?
This recipe is a Thai variation of the traditional Cantonese version of Sweet and Sour Pork. I got this one from the Internet and modified it slightly so the dish would look like the picture … a few ingredients were missing from the recipe provided. It is clearly different but it sure looks good! I want to try it soon and report back to you.
Note that as a Thai dish many varieties of oriental noodles can be used. I certainly recommend avoiding our traditional egg noodles in favor of rice noodles, ramen noodles, lo mein noodles or typical thin oriental noodles … ones made without eggs. These types of noodles are easy to find in any Asian market.
Ingredients: (Makes two servings)
8 oz. of oriental noodles
8 oz. of raw pork, sliced into thin pieces
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz. of canned bean sprouts
½ sweet red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon of oyster sauce (optional)
Salt, to taste
1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
3 dashes of white pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic chili sauce
1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vinegar
Very thinly sliced scallion top (green portion), or, very thinly sliced and cleaned small hot green pepper, like a jalapeno
Boil the noodles until they are al dente. Rinse them quickly with cold water, drain them well and set them aside.
Marinate the pork with all the ingredients in the Marinade, for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil until it is very hot in a wok.
Add the garlic and sweet red pepper and stir fry until the garlic is aromatic.
Add the marinated pork pieces to the wok, then stir and cook until the pork pieces are almost cooked.
Add the bean sprouts, follow by the noodles. Then add the (optional) oyster sauce.
Stir the wok contents to combine them and add some salt to taste.
When the bean sprouts are slightly wilted and cooked but remain crunchy, the dish is ready to be served.
Sprinkle the pieces of the garnish over the dish and serve it.