Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sweet and Sour Pork

Is it me or does the word "sweet" come up a lot in this blog recently? I HAVE had sweet cravings non-stop lately; I suppose it was only a matter of time before it bled into my recipes... even the savory ones! Oh well!

Sweet and sour pork is a dish that gave me quite a bit of trouble. I tried some bland recipes, some ridiculous ones (I am looking at you, Jamie Oliver!) and some that didn't even bother including pineapples. What a sham! So when I found myself looking at a lovely piece of pork tenderloin and some fresh pineapple in my fridge, I did what any kitchen mad-scientist would do: I Frankenstein-ed a recipe together from scratch. Or rather, I converted my sweet and sour chicken recipe for pork.

At the good old Chinese take-out joint, sweet and sour pork is one of those twice-fried dishes, like General Tao chicken. If that floats your boat, that's fine. I like a bit of double-fried piggy myself from time to time, but this is spring, which means I am digging my cute dresses and skirts out of my closet, so I have to make sure my winter fat goes away. I bike and walk, but not frying everything I eat to death is also a reasonable step I am taking towards fitting in that little pleather number. I included instructions for the traditional uber-fried pork at the end of the post for those with private trainers.

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 container cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 to 2 cups pineapple chunks

1 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup hot water

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minded
1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, minced

Sesame seeds, for garnish

In a small sauce pan, mix the vinegar, sugar, ketchup and soy sauce together; bring to a low boil. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water, then gently stir into the boiling pot. Cook and stir until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.

Pre-heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large wok or pan. Sauté the garlic, ginger and onion until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the pork and pepper to the wok and fry until the pork is well cooked, about 10 minutes.

Pour the sauce in the wok along with the pineapple chunks. Mix everything together well, and cook another minute or two, until everything is heated up. Serve with some rice, with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

This recipe makes a great, colorful plate, full of tasty vegetables and tender pieces of pork. The sauce has a perfect balance of sweetness and lip-puckering kick, but if you like it sweet, use 1/3 cup ketchup instead of a 1/4 cup.

If you want to go the classic way and fry the pork before stir-frying it with the veggies, you will need:

2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cupp all-purpose flour

Stir the batter ingredients together in a bowl. Add a bit of water if it's not liquid enough to coat the pork cubes. Add the pork to the bowl and stir, to make sure the pieces are all coated. Let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, while you prepare the sauce. Line a big plate with paper towels. Pour some peanut oil into a wok over medium heat and let it get hot (but not smoking). In 2 or 3 batches, add the pork cubes and fry them until golden-brown on the outside and cooked, through, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove the pork from the wok with a slotted spoon and put them on the paper toweled plate to drain the excess oil. Then simply carry on with the rest of the recipe.

This version is obviously a little fatter than the first one, but even I have to admit that it's super-tasty: just save it for special occasions!

Of course, this can be made with nice chunks of tofu, shrimps or chicken cubes (as I have one before right here).


  1. I've done Jamie's recipe before and while it's good it has a ton of ingredients too it and takes forever to prepare! I'm going to have to try this one though as I love sweet and sour pork but the trainer is always telling me watch my calories!

    1. This is a really nice, easy version, and it's definitely lighter than the twice-fried stuff! Let me know how you liked it!

  2. Any time I don't have to velvet the meat is a plus to me :D