Sweet and Sour Pork
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Sweet and Sour Pork is a mouthwatering stir-fry of crispy and tender pieces of deep fried pork tenderloin combined with onions, bell peppers and pineapple in a tangy sweet and sour sauce. Adults and kids alike will love it, so skip the soggy takeout and make this classic Chinese dish at home!
Sweet and Sour Pork is a Cantonese dish (咕嚕肉 or gū lō yuk) where tender pieces of pork are deep fried until crispy and then stir fried with vegetables and pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce. Its characteristic orange-red color comes from ketchup, which makes it especially appealing to kids and picky eaters!
While sweet and sour pork is on almost every Chinese restaurant menu, it was Sweet and Sour Chicken that made the top-10 Chinese food takeout list as reported by NBC. They’re both delicious with similar preparation, so make whatever you feel like most! Restaurant sweet and sour pork all too often turns out rubbery, soggy or just too sweet. I’m going to show you exactly how to avoid all of these, so you can enjoy this dish at its best.
How to make sweet and sour pork
There are 3 main steps for making sweet and sour pork:
- Bread and deep fry the pork pieces
- Make the sweet and sour sauce
- Stir fry the vegetables, adding in the pork and the sauce at the end
Since there’s some prep work involved, you may wish to get your pork cut into pieces by your meat counter, and to buy pineapple in chunks. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need:
- Pork tenderloin: this will product the most tender meat, and you can also use pork butt / pork shoulder as an alternative
- Beaten egg: to help coat the pork pieces
- Cornstarch: to make a light and crispy breading on the pork
- Vegetable oil: for deep frying – use canola oil, sunflower or peanut oil
Sweet and sour sauce
- Vinegar: I recommend apple cider vinegar for deeper flavor
- Soy sauce: Low-sodium is recommended
- Sugar: white or brown sugar will work
- Onion: yellow, white or purple will work
- Bell peppers: red, green and yellow
- Pineapple chunks: fresh pineapple is best
The key is getting the right balance of sweet and sour in the sauce. You don’t want it cloyingly sweet, nor too sour from the vinegar either. Be sure to taste the sauce before using and adjust proportions to taste! I also find apple cider vinegar is a bit smoother tasting than using straight white vinegar.
How to serve sweet and sour pork
The traditional way to serve sweet and sour pork is on steamed rice or fried rice to make a complete meal. You don’t really need a side vegetable because of the bell peppers and pineapple, but if you feel like something bok choy is a delicious combination.
Sweet and Sour Pork
- 1 ½ lb pork tenderloin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 3-4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- ¼ cup rice vinegar, or white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium recommended
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Cut the pork into 3/4-inch / 2 cm cubes.
- In a large bowl, mix together cornstarch, flour and salt.
- Add the egg, 1 tablespoon oil and water. Whisk until smooth. The mixture will be thick like pancake batter.
- Add the cubed pork to the mixture and toss to coat.
- Heat the oil to 350˚F / 175˚C in a deep-fryer or medium saucepan, and set aside a wire rack.
- Add the pork in batches and deep fry for about 5 minutes until golden and crispy.
- Remove to the rack with a slotted spoon, and repeat for remaining pork.
- Heat a skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.
- Sauté onion, bell peppers and pineapple in the pan for 2 - 4 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and ketchup. Bring to a simmer.
- In a small bowl or teacup, mix together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
- Slowly stir it into the pan. Simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the vegetables.
- Add in the cooked pork and stir to coat evenly with the sauce. Serve and enjoy!
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