Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Ubiquitous Sweet and Sour Pork

We just can't get enough of sweet and sour pork, can we? Those crispy golden balls of light and airy puffiness surrounding that delicious little pork nugget within, covered in thick and syrupy sweet and sour sauce. I am referring to the American-style battered sweet and sour pork, which are also available at some of the chinese-takeaway shops in Australia. Not so much in the higher end chinese restaurants though. Those usually serve the unbattered version of sweet and sour pork, where the pork is dusted with cornflour and deep-fried, forming a layer of golden crust around it. I like both versions, but this time, I decided to make the battered kind, which G used to love eating back in Berkeley. Yeah, sometimes I just turn to G and ask him what his stomach desires, especially when I've got too many ideas in my head and it's easier for someone to just tell me what to cook.

If you're planning to make the battered ones, it's best to use pork fillets as they turn out wonderfully moist and tender. With the unbattered version, a pork belly cut would be more suitable as the fillet can be a little too lean and one-dimensional in texture, especially without the crisp and fluffy batter on the outside. We like ours with plenty of sauce to slather all over our rice, and as you can see from the recipe below, it does make quite a decent quantity. I have tried including pineapple juice in the sauce before, but I think I prefer using plum sauce instead which is not as "zingy" and acidic as pineapple juice. My version of the sauce has a good balance between sweet and sour, but try tasting it as you go along and adjust it to your liking. It also depends on the brand of ketchup you're using, and in my case, I used Masterfoods tomato sauce.

Here is my rather lengthy but easier-than-it-looks sweet and sour pork recipe. I hope you will get to try this at home too. Enjoy!

Saucy Battered Sweet and Sour Pork


300g pork fillet, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, quartered
1/2 cup mixture of red/green peppers
1/4 cup diced pineapples
1 tomato, quartered

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp five-spice powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp cornflour for dusting

Batter (combine in a bowl to maka a thick batter):
3 tbsp cornflour
5 tbsp self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 egg
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp vegetable oil

Sauce (combine in a bowl):
6 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp white rice vinegar
2 tsp plum sauce (I used Ayam brand, which is quite tangy)
1 tbsp oyter sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper
3 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
1/4 cup water

2 tsp tapioca starch + 2 tbsp water

A drop of red colouring (optional)


Combine pork with marinade and set aside for 30 minutes. Have your sauce ready in a bowl for cooking later.
Dust the pork with cornflour. Heat up sufficent oil in a wok for deep-frying. Coat pork in the batter and deep-fry until light golden brown on medium-high heat. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. When the pork has cooled down slightly, heat up the oil on high heat and fry the pork again until browned, about 1-2 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

In a clean wok, heat up 1 1/2 tbsp oil and fry garlic, onion, peppers for 30 seconds. Then add pineapples and tomatoes, and the sauce ingredients. Simmer for a minute. Add colouring if used, and then add the starch solution. Bring to a boil until it thickens. Turn off heat and add the pork. Toss to coat in the sauce. Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.


Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said...

Thanks for sharing a beautiful recipe. This is a classic recipe but unfortunately many chinese restaurants seem to have bastardized this dish and have come up with psychedelic red coloured sauces. One of my fave is actually Sydney celebrity chef Kylie Kwong's recipe where the sauce is separated. I find this to be elegant and you can taste as much or less of the sauce as you want :)

Fern @ To Food With Love said...

Tell me about it. I still can't get over this ghastly neon pink SSP that we ordered from the local takeaway sometime back.

I've been pondering on Kylie's recipe for a while and was a bit skeptical, because I'm probably too used to typical SSP with tomato sauce, whereas hers uses vinegar as the base. But now I know you've tried and loved it, I will definitely give it a go next time. Thanks! :)

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Your sweet and sour pork looks delicious! I didn't know plum sauce is required for this recipe. I still have the jar of it and I should be making this. My kids love this dish. I'm a little lazy to deep fry first but I will have to try this one day. Thanks for the recipe!

Fern @ To Food With Love said...

Well, you can use plum sauce or pineapple juice to give it a fruity tang. You can also skip the sauce and eat the pork fritters on its kids eat them like chicken nuggets!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

your sweet and sour pork sound so authentic and i noticed i also prepared with a similar sauce.

Fern @ To Food With Love said...

Thanks Sonia. I guess we both prefer the Malaysian-style sweet sour pork :)

Anonymous said...

I made this last night and it was absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to try out some more of your lovely recipes. Thank you :)

Fern @ To Food With Love said...

@Anonymous: I'm thrilled to hear that! Thanks for trying it out :)

Mel said...

Hello Fern
I made this the other day and I can say your recipe taste so much better and tastier than the other one I tried earlier. For the whole last week, I have been trying continuously to cook sweet and sour pork because I want to try which one is the best in taste and yours so much so much tastier!