What is Sweet and Sour Pork?
Sweet and Sour Pork, the ubiquitous and arguably the most well-known Chinese recipe (and certainly Chinese pork recipes) 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 is in the Sauce
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 sweet and sour pork is 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 sweet and sour pork. With that in mind, I will teach you how to make that perfect homemade sweet and sour sauce and share my secret ingredients!
Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce
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.
A Note about Frying Batter
Other than the sauce, the frying batter for sweet and sour pork is also important. In my recipe below, you will find the instructions and exact measurements to make the batter. It is simply awesome! A lot of Chinese pork recipes will be fried, so this batter can be applicable for other dishes. A great batter recipe promises crispy and crunchy coating for the pork.
Sweet and Sour Pork Secret Ingredients
1. Plum Sauce
2. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
3. Oyster Sauce (my not-so-secret seasoning medium)
Discard the canned pineapple juice or orange juice in the Americanized sweet and sour pork recipe, and try out my secret ingredients above the next time you prepare sweet and sour pork.
Anyway, once you master the techniques of homemade sweet and sour sauce, you can pretty much whip up any sweet and sour dish in a jiffy: pork, chicken, fish, or shrimp…just don’t tell Panda Express my secret recipe!
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