Sweet and sour
Elena Peña (The Freeman) - February 1, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The craving for Chinese food is not a seasonal thing. People salivate at the thought of hot noodle soup or siomai or spring rolls – anytime. More so at this time when the Chinese lunar New Year is approaching that images of Chinese foods preoccupy everyone’s mind.

One popular and distinctly Chinese is the sweet-and-sour. The combination of the two tastes delights the palate in unique way, unmistakably Oriental. The most preferred main ingredients for sweet-and-sour are pork, chicken, and fish.

The most common of the three main sweet-and-sour varieties is pork. While chicken is as readily available as pork, the latter has firmer texture that turns into something deliciously gummy in the mouth when mixed with the almost caramelized sweet-and-sour sauce. Cooks who have mastered the sweet-and-sour dish say that the secret is actually in the sweet tangy sauce, which shall have a perfect balance of the sweet and the sour tastes.

Sweet-and-Sour Pork is an iconic Chinese recipe and classic Cantonese dish. It’s called “goo lou yok” in Cantonese. It really brings the pork up to the next level – the sweetness from sugar plus the tangy ketchup and sharp rice vinegar give the crispy fried pork pieces a different character.

Chinese kitchen masters have certain “secrets” to their winning Sweet-and-Sour Pork. OIn addition to rice vinegar and ketchup, they use Chinese plum sauce to add some extra zing, plus a few dashes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and oyster sauce to complete the perfect balance of flavor. The frying batter for the pork is equally important. The fried pork has to be crispy, airy and crunchy, so it retains its crispiness when stir-fried with the sweet-and-sour sauce.

Here’s a good recipe, from the website https://rasamalaysia.com, to try at home:

Sweet and Sour Pork

Ingredients:

½ lb. pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces

½ green bell pepper (about 2 oz.), cut into pieces

½ red bell pepper (about 2 oz.), cut into pieces

2 stalks scallions (only the white part), cut into 2-inch lengths

1 pc pineapple ring (fresh or canned), cut into small pieces

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Oil for frying

Marinade:

1 tsp soy sauce

½ tsp cornstarch

½ tsp rice wine

Frying Batter

2 oz. all-purpose flour

1 oz. cornstarch

½ tsp baking soda

½ egg

½ cup water

1 tsp cooking oil

Pinch of salt

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

1½ tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tsp plum sauce

1/8 tsp Chinese rice vinegar (transparent in color)

½ tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp water

Procedure:

• Cut the pork tenderloin into pieces and marinate with the ingredients for 15 to 20 minutes.

• Mix the sweet and sour sauce ingredients well and set aside.

• Strain the dry ingredients of the frying batter and then add in the egg, water, and cooking oil to form a thick batter.

• When the pork is already marinated well, transfer the pork pieces into the batter and make sure it’s well coated.

• In a deep skillet, add in the cooking oil enough for deep-frying. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the pork pieces until these turn golden brown. Dish out and drain on paper towels.

• Heat up a wok and add in some cooking oil. Add in the chopped garlic and stir fry until light brown, and then add the bell peppers and pineapple pieces. Stir fry until you smell the peppery aroma from the peppers and then add in the sweet and sour sauce.

• As soon as the sauce thickens, transfer the pork into the wok and stir well with the sauce. Add in the chopped scallions, do a few quick stirs, and then dish out.

Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.

The preparation time is about 10 minutes, and cooking time is another 10 minutes. This recipe serves two persons.

CHINESE FOOD
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