Cantonese Sweet and Sour Pork (酸甜咕咾肉)
Sweet and sour pork is one of the most representative Chinese dishes with no definitive origin story. However, multiple provinces in China claim to have the first recipe, including Henan, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Canton. This dish went global in the late 1800s as the first wave of Chinese immigrants (mainly Cantonese) crossed the Pacific to California to construct the railroads for the Gold Rush. A few decades later, the dish expanded worldwide during World War II, with Americans and Europeans savoring the dish. Therefore, the Cantonese version is commonly believed to be the prototype of the sweet and sour dishes (orange chicken, lemon chicken, even Mongolian beef) in Western Chinese take-out restaurants.
- To Marinade the Pork
- 1 lb (454 grams) of pork tenderloin
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 1/4 cup of cornstarch
- 1 medium size egg
- To Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1/2 cup of ketchup
- 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 tbsp of orange jam
- 1 tsp of salt or to taste
- 1 tbsp of oil
- 2 tbsp of minced garlic
- 1 tbsp of cornstarch
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1.5 cups of plain flour to coat the pork
- 2 cups of colorful bell pepper, cut into small diamond shapes
- 2 cups of pineapple, cut into 2/3-inch cubes
- 3 cups of oil for deep frying
- Remove the silver skin from the pork tenderloin. Then cut into 2/3-inch cubes.
- Marinate the pork with soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, salt, baking soda, cornstarch, and egg. Mix until there are no lumps and set it in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Cut the pineapple and multi-color bell pepper into the same size as the pork; mince the garlic and set them aside.
- In a sauce bowl, thoroughly combine the ketchup, sugar, apple cider vinegar, orange jam, and salt. Mix well and set it aside.
- Take the pork from the fridge. Combine the pork and the all-purpose flour into a big bag. Then shake until every piece of the pork is coated well.
- Put the meat on a sieve and shake off the excess flour, then rest the pork for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the coating to bond. Otherwise, the flour bits will fall off while deep frying, which ruins the quality of the oil
- Heat 2.5 cups of oil in a wok to 350°F (177°C). Fry the coated pork in 2-3 batches over medium heat until lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes for each batch. Remove the pork to the side and rest for 10 minutes.
- Increase the temperature to 380°F (193°C), and double fry the pork over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the pork onto a tray with some paper towels under it to get rid of the excess oil.
- Add a tbsp of cooking oil to a clean wok. Saute the minced garlic until fragrant. Pour in the sweet and sour sauce, then stir until bubbling.
- Quickly mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1/2 of water and pour it to the sauce. Stir until the sauce thickens. Add the bell pepper and the pineapple and mix on medium heat for a few minutes or until these two ingredients reach the doneness you like.
- Introduce the fried pork back to the wok. Keep mixing until everything is coated with that glossy, sticky sauce.
- Serve with white rice.