Sweet and Sour Pork, the ubiquitous and arguably the most well-known Chinese recipe in the world, is a classic Cantonese dish. Called “咕嚕肉” or “goo lou yok” in Cantonese dialect, sweet and sour pork is very pleasing to the palate because of the flavorsome sweet and sour sauce—the sweetness from sugar plus the tangy ketchup and sharp rice vinegar—with the crispy fried pork pieces. (You can check out my sweet and sour chicken recipe.) The green and red bell peppers and pineapple pieces are just icing on the cake.
The secret of an authentic sweet and sour pork dish lies in the perfect balance of the sweet vs. sour taste of the sauce. To master this dish, it’s not about the technique of stir-frying nor the use of the freshest ingredients, although both are equally important and wouldn’t hurt. To me, the sweet and sour sauce is the soul of this dish. If you fail the sweet and sour sauce, you fail the dish. With that in mind, I will teach you how to make that perfect sweet and sour sauce and share with you the secret ingredients I use.
While traditional Chinese/Cantonese sweet and sour pork recipe calls for the use of rice vinegar and ketchup to bring out the sour taste, I also use plum sauce to add some extra zing, plus a few dashes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and oyster sauce to complete a harmony balance. They are my secret ingredients and do make a nice difference in terms of taste, in my honest opinion.
Other than the sauce, the frying batter is no less important. A great batter recipe promises crispy and crunchy coating for the pork. In my recipe below, you will also find the instructions and exact measurement to make the batter. It is simply awesome!
Rasa Malaysia’s Secret Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Pork:
1. Plum Sauce
2. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
3. Oyster Sauce (my not-so-secret seasoning medium)
So, discard the canned pineapple juice or orange juice in the Americanized sweet and sour pork recipe. Do try out my secret ingredients above the next time you prepare sweet and sour pork.
Anyway, once you master the techniques of making sweet and sour sauce, you can pretty much whip up any sweet and sour dishes in a jiffy: pork, chicken, fish, or shrimp…just don’t tell Panda Express my secret recipe!
Other popular Chinese recipes: Broccoli Beef, Sweet and Sour Pork, Egg Drop Soup, Kung Pao Chicken, Chow Mein, Fried Rice, Orange Chicken, Mongolian Beef, General Tso’s Chicken, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Lettuce Wraps, and more.
1/2 lb. pork tenderloin (cut into bite size pieces)
1/2 green bell pepper (about 2 oz. and cut into pieces)
1/2 red bell pepper (about 2 oz. and cut into pieces)
2 stalks scallions (only the white part, cut into 2 inch length)
1 piece fresh/canned pineapple ring (cut into small pieces)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
Oil for frying
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon corn flour
1/2 teaspoon rice wine
1/2 cup water
2 oz. all-purpose flour
1 oz. corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 small pinch of salt
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon plum sauce
1/8 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar (transparent in color)
1/2 teaspoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
Cut the pork tenderloin into pieces and marinate with the ingredients for 15-20 minutes.
Mix the sweet and sour sauce ingredients well and set aside.
Strain the dry ingredients of the frying batter and then add in the egg, water, and cooking oil to form a thick batter.
When the pork is well-marinated, transfer the pork pieces into the batter and make sure they are well coated. In a deep skillet, add in the cooking oil enough for deep-frying. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the pork pieces until they turn golden brown. Dish out and drain on paper towels.
Heat up a wok and add in some cooking oil. Add in the chopped garlic and stir fry until light brown, then follow by the bell peppers and pineapple pieces. Stir fry until you smell the peppery aroma from the peppers and then add in the sweet and sour sauce. As soon as the sauce thickenens, transfer the pork into the wok and stir well with the sauce. Add in the chopped scallions, do a few quick stirs, dish out and serve hot with steamed white rice.
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