Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sweet and Sour Pork

Ah, sweet and sour pork, that Cantonese delight!

The problem is that good sweet and sour pork is extremely hard to find. When one does though... dreamy look

We'd like to get it on the outside, but often, there would be problems with the pork (too lean, too fatty), problems with the batter (too thick), problems with the sauce (too thick, too gloopy, too sweet, not sour enough, too sour)... sigh

In our house, CSC is the resident sweet and sour pork expert. The reason? She actually follows the recipe and the way the dish is supposed to be made, instead of taking shortcuts. This dish is way too labor-intensive for me! =)

JS' "rogue" version of sweet and sour pork

Don't believe me? Here's how one does it. And yes, it was CSC who did the work below. These procedural pictures were taken two years ago, by the way. This is procrastination at its best.

First, the prep. If you look at the recipe below, there are mixtures #1, #2, and #3. One needs to mix these mixtures beforehand and have them ready before proceeding. Of course, CSC also cut up all the vegetables at this time.

There are multiple steps to prepare the pork component.

First, slicing the pork.
Second, tendering the pork with the blunt end of a cleaver.
Third, marinating the meat (with egg yolk!).
Fourth, dredging the marinated pork in cornstarch.
Fifth, frying the pork at medium heat to cook.
Sixth, frying the pork a second time over high heat to brown.

I don't know about you, but that seems like a lot of work to me. ;)

But, the results are worth it! Of course, this assumes that someone else is doing all this work.

Next, the garlic, onion and bell peppers are stir-fried and cooked. CSC didn't put pineapples in this version, but Mama, CSC and I all love the pineapple in sweet and sour pork, so subsequent versions have always had them.

The sauce is added and thickened, then the amazingly crispy and delicious deep-fried pork pieces are added. Everything is mixed together, and you have deliciousness for dinner!

Ah yes, JS made the rogue version of the dish just so we can photograph the dish in better lighting. Her dish is "rogue" because she didn't follow all the steps for making the dish... of course. ;)

eatingclub Hong Kong/Cantonese
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Cantonese Braised Beef Brisket, Two Ways
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Chinese Roast Pork Belly
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Chinese Pork Bone Soup with Carrots and Water Chestnuts
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Hong Kong-style Singapore Noodles (星洲炒米)
Hong Kong-style Stir-fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste (蝦醬通菜)
Hong Kong-style Stir-fried Rice Noodle with Beef (乾炒牛河)
Sweet and Sour Pork
Hong Kong-style Curry Beef Brisket (咖喱牛腩), 1st Attempt

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Sweet and Sour Pork
adapted from Pei Mei's recipe

Pei Mei's recipe calls for using a "pickled vegetable salad". We simply used bell peppers and onions as is, without pickling them first. We have also added pineapple chunks.

2/3 lb pork loin

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cornstarch

6 tablespoon cornstarch
6 cups oil (for frying)

1 small green bell pepper (or half pepper)
1 small red bell pepper (or half pepper)
1 small onion (or half onion)
pineapple chunks
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/3 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon water

Cut pork into slices 2/3-inch thick. Using blunt edge of cleaver, lightly pound slices to tenderize; cut meat into bite-size pieces; mix with mixture #1 and let sit for 20 minutes.

Before deep-frying meat, mix with the 6 tablespoons of cornstarch.

Heat oil for deep-frying. Deep-fry pork pieces over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove pork pieces and set aside.

Reheat oil until very hot. Re-fry pork pieces for another 30 seconds. Remove and drain.

Prepare vegetables: remove seeds from bell peppers and cut into bite-size pieces. Chop onion into bite-size pieces. If using canned pineapple chunks, drain well.

Reheat pan and 3 tablespoons oil. Add chopped garlic briefly (a few seconds), then add onions and bell peppers. Stir-fry briefly to cook. Add pineapple chunks.

Add mixture #2 to the pan. When boiling, add mixture #3 to thicken. Add fried pork pieces and toss lightly to mix everything together.

Remove to serving platter and serve immediately with white rice.


  1. We had exactly the same thing today for dinner ... right down to the pineapple and red/green peppers. It was pretty good but really expensive (about $15) at the smallish Cantonese restaurant on Westminster Highway. Ben

  2. yes, old world cuisine are labor-intensive; but then, do you want flavor or just food to snarf down!

  3. Although Cantonese, I tried this dish in the different regions in China and they were quite different between the north, central, and south. Different in terms of sauce base and accompanying vegetables. It was very interesting. I also made it in Chengdu.

    p.s. I didn't know this was one of CSC's hidden talents! All these years and she's never made it for me. :)

  4. Crispy sweet & sour pork is pure awesomeness. That is all. Can we hire CSC to come make some for us too?

  5. looks amazing. one of my fav dishes, I can eat a lot hehe

  6. I am such a sucker for sweet and sour pork or chicken. And yes, doing it right is so labor-intensive, but oh so good.

  7. It's so much better to make this dish at home, where you can ensure the quality of ingredients as well as tune the recipe to your liking.

    We do something very similar to yours in our Sweet and Sour Fried Fish recipe:

  8. this sauce was really good! It will be my go to recipe now instead of packets! I also did mine with fried Tilapia, next time pork. Thank you for recipe!

  9. Ben and Suanne:
    Which resto was that? Any good?

    The best thing is to have someone else make it for you. ;)

    Yeah, "sweet and sour" mean totally different things in China. =) You should ask CSC anout hits; unless she has already forgotten that she makes this dish! Hehe.

    If CSC is this popular, I think I'll be her agent. ;)

    Nate @ House of Annie:
    Oh my, frying fish!!!!

    Thank you for trying it out! We're glad it worked for you. =) said...


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