It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s rainy and I don’t know about you but I am craving a treat to perk me up. Sweet and Sour is one of the most well known Cantonese flavour combinations, and one that I honestly love, when done well.
Unfortunately there are a lot of take-aways here in the UK that have given these flavours a bad reputation by serving dishes that are heavy, thick, overly sweet and unbelievably greasy and gloopy, with little other flavours or textures to help balance the dish out and leave you wanting more or feeling good after eating.
My best advice for those who, like myself, enjoy the sweet and sour flavours, is to make it at home! By using fresh ingredients and a few store cupboard items, you can create a complex, light sweet and sour dish that will far surpass most local take aways. Either follow this classic recipe for crispy, deep-fried Sweet & Sour Pork below, from my first book Chinese Unchopped OR head to your local Tesco or Waitrose and look for our brand new School of Wok Stir Fry Kits. Happy weekend woking one and all!
CLASSIC SWEET & SOUR PORK
PREPARATION TIME: 20 MINUTES
COOKING TIME: 10 MINUTES
300g pork shoulder steaks
200g cornflour, seasoned with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ onion (optional)
½ green pepper (optional)
vegetable oil, for frying
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
4 tablespoons rice vinegar or white
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
Cut the meat into 2cm cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the marinade ingredients and, using your hands, massage the pieces until they are evenly coated, then add the seasoned cornflour and rub it into the meat. The meat will first start to stick together in clumps but will start to separate as you continue to rub it. Once all the meat has completely separated it is ready to be fried.
Cut the onion and pepper, if using, into 2cm dice.
Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small prep bowl or ramekin.
BUILD YOUR WOK CLOCK: place your pork dice at 12 o’clock, then arrange the onion and pepper, if using, and the sauce bowl clockwise around your plate.
Half-fill a large pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until the tip of a wooden chopstick or skewer starts to fizz after a second or so in the oil. Carefully add the marinated meat and deep-fry until golden brown, about
5–6 minutes. Remove the pieces carefully with a slotted spoon and drain well on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
In a separate wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over a high heat until smoking-hot. Add the onion and pepper, if using, and stir-fry for 1 minute until the onions are lightly browned, then pour over the sauce and bring to a vigorous boil.
Once boiling, add the pork pieces and toss through a few times to mix everything together. Serve immediately.