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So, sweet & sour pork has been my favorite Chinese dish of all time. So naturally, I wasn’t going to give up until I found the most amazing recipe in my opinion to please me and many of you out there.
So in getting this dish right, I had to concentrate on a few things that would contribute to it’s perfection.
1. Pork – The type of pork cut you use will make a big difference. My personal favorite is pork shoulder, however some people also use pork leg, pork belly (which is much fattier) and I do not recommend, and I find that pork tenderloin or pork loin may be too dry as an end product.
2. Texture – So I use an old Chinese trick to tenderize some of my meats called “velveting”, which leaves the inside nice and soft while the outside will be crispy. The seasoning and marinating of the meat will also give it a nice flavor. And the secret to the crispiness is the cornstarch instead of flour.
3. Sauce – It took some time to come up with the perfect sweet & sour sauce, but this is definitely it!
Pork Marinade Ingredients
- Pork – My recommended cut is pork shoulder cut in 2″ pieces.
- Baking Soda & Cornstarch – This is the velveting method that will tenderize your meat. On other meats usually more baking soda is used and then rinsed off. For the pork, not as much is used and no rising is necessary and we tenderize longer so that it will be done more evenly.
- Garlic, ginger & onion – grated to add more flavor and soaks into the meat better.
- Light Soy Sauce – Adds more flavor & seasoning.
Sweet & Sour Sauce
Here is what goes into my sweet & sour sauce:
- Ketchup – helps to thicken, adds redness and a little sweetness.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Where the “sour” comes from and balances out the sweetness.
- Sugar – the “sweet”.
- Worcestershire sauce, Oyster Sauce, and Light Soy Sauce – To balance out your sauce to taste like actual restaurant quality sweet & sour sauce.
- Pineapple Juice – Adds a little sweetness and citrus flavor to give it a kick.
- Garlic, Red Pepper, Green Pepper, Pineapple pieces – Veggies for your sauce.
1. Marinate – To allow the seasonings to soak in and the meat to tenderize at least a couple hours or overnight.
2. Coat in Cornstarch – This is the first coating which will eventually become sticky from the juices of the pork. Leave this for 5 minutes.
3. Second dip in cornstarch – This is how your pork will yield a crispy texture outside. You dip each piece before frying making sure to shake off the excess well.
4. Drain on a paper towel lined plate or rack – This will soak up your excess oil.
5. Sauce – Your sauce can be made before or during frying. You can make the sauce first and add the veggies at the end, that way they taste crispier or some people like cooking them down in the sauce.
Sweet and sour is probably the most popular Chinese sauce served in Chinese restaurants all over the world especially in western countries. This sauce is not unique to China and is enjoyed by many different cultures.
Having tasted Chinese food myself from several different countries, I would say each one has a different taste. There are also many different variations of how this sauce is made although most Chinese restaurants seem to use a prepared one that tastes similar.
My serving suggestion for sweet and sour pork is white rice as it balances out the flavor from the richness of the dish, but it can also go with fried rice, noodles, or like a vegetable stir fry. I suggest you not combine the sauce and pork until ready to eat. If the pork gets cold, it can be reheated a few minutes in the oven first.
My dad is Chinese, so from a young child we dined at many Chinese restaurants both in Jamaica and while we lived in America. My favorite dish was always sweet and sour chicken or pork, as it still is.
So of course I had to set out on a quest to find and develop my best home made version of this to be able to make myself for my family. I hope you will enjoy it.
I like to use pork shoulder, pork leg, or pork belly and cut them in medium sized chunks. I lightly season it in a mixing bowl and leave until ready to cook. I then cover the pieces in a flour batter and fry in a medium sized, deep non-stick pot. The sauce is made in a separate pot and everything combined when it is finished.
Amazing Sweet & Sour Pork
- 3-1/2 Lbs. Pork (cut in 1" cubes)
- 1/2 cup Onion grated
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic grated
- 1 Tbsp. Ginger grated
- 1-1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. Corn Starch
- 3 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
- 1 Cup Oil for frying
- 1 Cup Cornstarch
Prepare for Frying
- 1 + 1/4 cup Cornstarch 1st coating
- 2 cups Cornstarch Dipping before frying
- 1 cup Oil frying
Sweet & Sour Sauce
- 2/3 Cup White Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. Pineapple Juice
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. Ketchup
- 2 tsp. Worcestshire Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
- 2 tsp. Oyster Sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 2-1/2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
- 1 Cup Water
- 8 Oz. Can of pineapple chunks cut in pieces
- 1/4 Cup Green pepper chunks
- 1/4 Cup Red Pepper Chunks
- 1/4 Cup Onion chunks
Place cubed pork in medium bowl. Season with marinade seasonings. Marinade a couple hours or overnight.
Heat a deep medium pot on medium heat with oil.
Coat the pork with the first coating of cornstarch.
Place the other cornstarch in a seperate bowl for dipping before frying.
When oil is hot, fry a couple pieces at a time for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked thoroughly.
Drain on a big plate lined with paper towels.
Sweet & Sour Sauce
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except cornstarch and water. Heat on medium heat.
In a small cup, combine cornstarch and water. Add to pot when it starts to boil and stir continuously until thickens.
Add veggies at the end to sauce.
Combine pork and sauce when ready to eat.
* Best served with white rice.
* Also good with fried rice, noodles, or vegetable stir fry.