Sweet and sour pork 咕噜肉/咕老肉 is the traditional Chinese cuisine with a universal appeal. It is easy to prepare, kids friendly, which is perfect for any busy home cooks.
The pork pieces are doused in a thick, spoon-coating sauce with a constant pull between sweet and sour. The deep fried pork is well balanced with the aesthetically pleasing combination of vegetables with will definitely set your stomach growling.
How to make sweet and sour pork 咕噜肉- The step by step guide
- Chinese sweet and sour pork is prepared by marinating the pork with light soy sauce, cornatarch and egg white for thirty minutes at least.
- Make a batter consist of wheat flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Mix the pork with the batter then deep-fried.
- Saute the vegetable in the wok. Add the sauce consist of ketchup, Chinese plum sauce, sugar, and salt. Combine with the deep-fried pork. Serve.
This easy sweet and sour pork recipe is divided into four steps.
1. Prepare the pork
The sweet and sour pork marinate
Cut the pork into bite size, about 3 cm length. Most of the Chinese restaurants use pork belly, but you may use pork loin or chicken breast meat if you prefer less fatty. I have a separate recipe for sweet and sour chicken which you may want to try.
Add the cornstarch, egg whites, and light soy sauce and marinate the pork for at least thirty minutes, preferably overnight if time is permissible in the refrigerator.
The cornstarch and egg whites help to smoothen the pork and make it tender. The light soy sauce improves the flavor especially the interior of the meat, where the sauce that covers the surface is unable to reach.
Sweet and sour pork will not turn out great if it does not marinate long enough. Marinating will ensure the interior is tasty even without cover by the sauce.
Prepare the batter
The marinated pork is dipped into the batter before deep-frying. The batter consists of wheat flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. This batter will create a crispy coating on the pork.
The cornstarch plays a different role than in the marinade. The amount used is more to create a crispy crust.
Salt improves the flavor, whilst baking soda is a leavening agent, that will expand the batter and make it light and crunchy. You can substitute baking soda with baking powder for the same effect.
The batter should not be too watery so that it can cling on to the pork pieces. You can reduce some water as indicated in this recipe should you prefer a thicker crispy coating.
Deep-fried the pork coated with the batter in hot oil until the color changes to a golden brown, which may only take about five minutes. Remove the pork, let the oil drain off and cools for a while on paper towel.
2. Cut the vegetables
The most common vegetables for Chinese sweet and sour pork are capsicums, cucumbers, onions, and pineapples. They are cut into bite-size chunks or pieces and stir fry briefly to maintain the freshness and crunchiness.
Fresh vegetables provide an excellent contrast to the deep-fried pork and the sauce with strong savory flavor.
3. Make the sweet and sour sauce
It is the sweet and sour sauce that sets apart one recipe from another.
Although you can prepare the sweet and sour sauce by combining only vinegar and sugar, it definitely can formulate with a variety of ingredients to get more flavors.
You can substitute part of the ketchup with chili sauce to make it spicy. Ketchup is both sweet and sour in nature, but it is the Chinese plum sauce that provides most of the unique flavor in this formula.
You can adjust the sourness by adding more vinegar or lemon juice, and sweetness with sugar or honey.
How much sweet and sour sauce is required? I use a simple formula to calculate how much sauce I need: One part of the sauce for every three parts of the ingredients (meat and vegetables). You can make more sauce if you prefer a stronger flavor.
4. Combine all the ingredients
Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil into the wok. Saute the onion, capsicum, pineapple, and cucumber and stir-fried briefly for half a minute. You can also use a pan to cook as there is no high heat required for this recipe. Cast iron wok is the best utensil to stir-fry anything that involves high heat, such as fried rice.
Add the sauce to the vegetable when it starts to turn soft. Continue stir-frying until the sauce starts to boil. Turn off the heat and return the deep-fried pork to the wok. Have a few quick stirs and flips to let the sauce cover the pork. Therefore, I do not stir fry the pork with the sauce as it will result in losing its crispiness. The thick sauce will cling on to the pork to form a glossy finishing. Dish out and serve.
The sweet and sour pork tastes best when the pork pieces are freshly coated with the sauce.
Will the crispy coating turns soggy?
If you have not prepared this dish before, you may wonder whether the crispy exterior coating will turn soggy after mixing with the sweet and sour sauce.
The answer is yes, but not for too long. that is why Chinese sweet and sour pork is best to eat immediately when the crust is still crunchy. The use of cornstarch in the batter helps to prolong the duration of crunchiness.
The sauce should be thick enough to cling on the pork so that it will not wet the pork too much. You may notice that there is no water in the sweet and sour sauce recipe.
The sweet and sour pork recipe
(A) For the pork:
- 300g pork belly (or loin)
- 4 tsp light soy sauce
- Half egg white
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
(B) For the vegetables :
- 60g cucumber
- 40g red Capsicum
- 40g green Capsicum
- 100g onion
(C) For the batter:
- 50g wheat flour
- 50g cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 90 ml water
(D) For the sauce:
- 130g ketchup
- 60g Chinese plum sauce
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp sugar1 tsp salt
- Oil for deep frying and stir-frying
- Cut the pork into bite size, about 3 cm length.
- Add the cornstarch, egg whites, and light soy sauce and marinate the pork for preferably overnight.
- Combine ingredients (C) to make the batter. Dip the marinated pork into the batter. Deep -fried until golden brown. Drained.
- Cut the cucumber, capsicum, and onion into bite-size pieces.
- Combine ingredients (D) to make the sauce.
- Saute the onion, capsicum, and cucumber and stir-fry briefly.
- Add the sauce to the vegetables. Continue stir-frying until the sauce starts to boil.
- Turn off the heat and return the deep-fried pork to the wok. Have a few quick stirs and flip to let the sauce cover the pork. Dish out and serve.
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Serving Size:3 servings
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 584 Total Fat: 27g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 84mg Sodium: 3049mg Carbohydrates: 58g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 13g Protein: 28g
Cooks Standard 02591 Flat Bottom with Lid 11-Inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Wok Stir Fry Pan, Black
Nonstick performance for easy food release/tossing, cleaning, and allows for healthy cooking
Tempered glass lid to view food; wide and deep to hold a large amount for multiple uses
Lee Kum Kee Premium Light Soy Sauce - 150ml (5.27 fl oz)
Lee Kum Kee.
Lee Kum Kee Plum Sauce - 14 oz.
Lee Kum Kee Brand Chinese plum sauce.
Heinz - Tomato Ketchup - 50 % Less Sugar & Salt - 435g
No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or thickeners.
Sweetener from the natural source.
No palm oil.
Suitable for Vegans.
No gluten-containing ingredients.