You can go to a Chinese restaurant with 1,000 items. But we’ll bet, without even opening the newspaper-like menu, you’re gonna order sweet and sour pork. Maybe it’s the crispy meat or the face-puckering sauce. Or maybe it’s the pineapples—though we know a bunch of you won’t admit this (the same is true with the bell peppers). But this takeout classic is a go-to for Filipinos, so much so that’s it invaded even our households.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Pork
This sweet and sour pork recipe recreates the dish almost exactly like those in Chinese restaurants in Binondo. That’s all thanks to a process called velveting and a well-balanced combination of sweet and sour flavors to build the sauce. It also comes together really quickly—30 minutes tops (plus an extra 30 for marinating, but we don’t have to count that).
In a bowl, combine pork, cornstarch, baking soda, soy sauce, oil, and egg whites. This “marinade” takes a page from a Chinese method called velveting, a method that helps improve the texture of protein.
Toss the mixture to coat the pork. Cover the bowl, then place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
After marinating, take out the pork, then coat the pieces in rice flour.
Lay the pork out onto a tray, then let it sit for 10 minutes. The rice flour gives the pork a crisper exterior, as opposed to just all-purpose flour. And letting it sit out allows it to form a sort of hard coating around the pork, acting as a skin.
Meanwhile, heat oil for frying to 375F (190C).
Fry the pork in batches until golden and crispy, which should take just five to eight minutes. Drain the pork on paper towels or a cooling rack, then set aside.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
You don’t need a wok to make this sweet and sour pork recipe. But we do recommend using one—not just because it’s fun. It makes cooking the stir-fry more efficiently, making the recipe much easier. If you need a good wok, you can get one here.
You’ll be working fast, so make sure you have everything prepped and ready. Slice your vegetables, put your sauces at arm’s reach, and open your can of pineapples.
Place your wok over high heat, then add the oil. Add the ginger and peppers and cook until the latter begins to soften. Add the onion and cook everything for two more minutes.
Next, add the tomato sauce, vinegar, and the juice of the canned pineapple into the wok. Keep cooking the sauce over high heat until the liquid is reduced by a fourth.
In a bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry, then immediately pour it into the sauce. Cook for five more minutes. By now, the sauce should be thick.
Toss in the fried pork and pineapple chunks, coating each piece.
Continue to cook the sweet and sour pork until the sauce thickens around the meat.
Remove from heat, then serve immediately.
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