Although it is arguably the most popular Chinese dish in the United States, perfecting a sweet and sour pork recipe can be difficult. Apply for this position!
A sweet and sour sauce is baked into the pork before it is coated and fried to a crisp.
How Is It Made?
While sweet and sour pork can be made with just about any cut of pork, I went with tenderloin.
My dad used to make this dish, which he called “sweet and pungent pork,” at the restaurant he used to work at in upstate New York.
You can charge a bit more for the same experience if you refer to it as “sweet and pungent” rather than “sweet and sour.”
Making a crispy pork and a sauce that doesn’t need extra water is the key to delicious sweet and sour pork.
Because of this, you can rest assured that you won’t be getting a watered-down, weak sauce but rather robust flavors that will clear your sinuses and satisfy any sweet tooth.
You’ll love this classic recipe, which is incredibly easy to make and tastes great every time.
For the Pork and Marinade, You’ll need the following:
- 1 lb. of pork shoulder or pork tenderloin (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 2 tbsp. of water
- 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. of onion powder
- ½ tsp. of sesame oil
- 1 tsp. of soy sauce
For the Sauce, You’ll Need:
- 1 tsp. of oil
- 2 slices of ginger (smashed)
- 1 pc. of star anise
- ¼ cup of tomato ketchup
- 1½ cups of white vinegar (5% acidity or less)
- ½ cup of sugar
For Dredging and Frying the Pork, You’ll Need:
- 3 cups of canola oil(for frying)
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup of cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. of salt
- 1/8 tsp. of pepper
- 1 egg (beaten)
For the Rest of the Dish:
- 1 tbsp. of oil
- 1/2 green bell pepper (cut into 1½-inch square pieces)
- 1/2 red pepper (cut into 1½-inch square pieces)
- 1/2 onion (cut into 1½-inch square pieces)
- 8 oz. of can of pineapple chunks (you’ll use the juices from the can for the sauce)
- 2 tsp. of cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 2 teaspoons of water)
- Toss the pork with the marinade ingredients and combine thoroughly until the liquid has disappeared. The recommended waiting time is 30 minutes.
- In the next step, prepare the sauce. Place ginger slices, star anise, and 1 teaspoon of oil in a small saucepan and heat over medium until the ginger begins to caramelize (about 1 minute). Now, stir in some ketchup. If it starts to bubble, constantly stir until the ketchup begins to caramelize (about 2 minutes). Take your time with this step, as burning the aromatics and ketchup will ruin the sauce’s potential for a richer, more nuanced flavor.
- Next, mix the white vinegar, sugar, and canned pineapple juice. Continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to simmer.
- Reduce the heat to the absolute minimum and let the sauce simmer until it thickens enough to coat a spoon (about 30 minutes). This waiting period is essential for the sauce’s flavor development. Now is the time to cool and store the sauce; if you want enough for multiple meals, you can easily multiply the recipe.
- Bring 3 cups of oil to a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a small saucepan. If you use a smaller pot and fry in stages, there will be less oil to dispose of. Before storing oil in the fridge, it is best to let it cool completely and then strain it through a fine mesh strainer.
- The dredging ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper) should be combined in a pie plate or other shallow dish. Roll the pork in the flour, dip it in the egg, and finally roll it again.
- Fry each batch until it reaches a light golden brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Take the food out of the oil with a spider or slotted spoon and place it on a baking sheet.
- Refry the pork in batches to crisp the coating, then combine everything. A second frying step is planned to avoid the pork becoming too soggy in the sauce.
- The bell peppers and onions should be added to a clean wok along with 1 tablespoon of oil. Incorporate the sauce and the pineapple after 30 seconds of stir-frying. To further thicken the sauce, bring the mixture to a simmer. You should add some cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce further.
- Begin by adding half, stirring for 15 seconds before deciding if more is needed. Keep in mind that the sauce will further thicken as it cools on the plate, so use only as much as you need.
- I feel obligated to add that this sauce is both sweet and intense. Now is the time to taste the sauce to see if it needs more water because it is either too sweet or too sour. Add the pork once you’ve got the flavor and consistency, especially if you’ve had to add more water.
- The next step is to add your pieces of crispy pork to the sauce and toss them until they are evenly coated. Start serving right away!