Monday, March 17, 2008

Sweet N Sour Pork


Sweet and sour pork (gu lao rou) was, and probably still is, the dish that represented all Cantonese food for most westerners. If I see a westerner eat sweet and sour pork, I know that person is not much of a Chinese food gourmet. This was especially evident in North America although it may be different now (Mandy? Bee?). I've noticed that the westerners in Australia eat very authentic Chinese food and they hold their chopsticks better than my kids (for those who don't know, that means controlling the movement of the upper chopstick with your thumb, forefinger and middle finger while the bottom chopstick rests immoveable on your forth finger). I wonder if this dish was a creation by some Chinese chef on some foreign land far from China, you know the pen gui lao (cheat the westerners) kind of food.

Whatever the origin, sweet and sour pork is one delicious dish that is enjoyed here in casual, coffee-type restaurants and not in the larger establishments. Some good restaurants for this dish are Diamond Restaurant, the restaurant below Ang's Hotel, all those Beaufort-type restaurants including Man Tai and so on.

This is a dish that is so taken for granted that nobody (that means me) cooks it at home. I don't know why. For me, I'd not eat it often since the sauce has quite a bit of sugar although if I really am concerned about that, then I should first cut out all cakes. But, on to the recipe. My sons tell me this dish tasted just like the restaurants'. Impress your little ones with this colorful dish which makes use of any non-leaf veggies as long as they are colorful. I've used cucumbers (which are cheaper than bell peppers. Why are bell peppers so expensive here?), leftover pineapple, tomatoes and brown onions but for those of you who can easily get strawberries and kiwis, and even apples, those would be wonderful too.


Sweet N Sour Pork

300g pork shoulder (with a bit of fat)
1 medium brown onion
1 large tomato
1 cuke, or green bell pepper
1 red chili

8 T water
1 heaped T cornflour
2 T tomato ketchup
2 T fine sugar
1 t worchestershire sauce (optional)
1 T vinegar
1/2 t salt
a shake of msg/chicken stock powder

1. Lightly and randomly score the surface of the pork all over (to tenderize) and cut into 2 cm cubes. Add 1/2 t salt, some white pepper, 1 T cornflor, 1 egg white and 1/2 t sesame oil (optional) and mix well (using your hands to mix better) and leave 1/2 hour. Note: add 1/2 t 5-spice powder if like.

2. Cut all the veg into 1 1/2 cm cubes/slices. Mix all the sauce ingredients together, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Taste and season it if necesssary.

3. Heat 2 to 3 cups of oil until very hot. Coat each piece of pork with cornflour and drop into oil in 3 batches. Move the pork around so they don't stick together. Fry until light to medium brown and very crispy, and drain on paper towels. Place pork on serving plate.

4. Pour the oil away leaving about 1 T in the wok and add all the veg into the same wok (there'll be enough oil coating the wok but in restaurants, oil is added so the sauce will have a sheen). Fry until veg are half-done. Now add the sauce ingredients (give it a stir before adding into wok) and stir until sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the pork, or you can add the pork in and then dish out.


My little ba be goong (fussy guy) does not like crispy meat coated with sauce, so I had to serve the pork and sauce separately. The crispy pork is very good too without the sauce. In Jap restaurants, you'd be charged a bomb for the same thing which they call karaage.


CK Ng said...

Fuyoh! MY saliva's dripping liao! This is my favourite dish in the Cantonese cuisine!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Terri for this receipe! Looks yummy!

One of my fav dishes as a kid. Agree with you that the way some westerners hold chopsticks are better than us Asians (well, me at least!)

Rasa Malaysia said...

Yes, gwai lo loves this dish a lot, but I notice that Americans don't like pork that much and so they eat sweet and sour chicken. ;)

red | hongyi said...

im not a fan of sweet n sour pork :x

like wey, i'd prefer to have it without the sauce. wey n i have similar taste when it comes to food :)

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

hey !
my colleagues attended Louis Pang workshop ! they came and told me tt Terri is prettie & with a lovely hub!

ur pork is *Slurrrrp*

Hazza said...

Very popular with the English too. In fact, I had my first taste of s&s here in the UK! Your effort looked lovely. Personally, I seldom attempt to make the sauce as I find the Blue Dragon sauce better than anything I can make.

Pamela said...

Funny, I am only one in family who DOESN'T like it, I am not fond of any sweet meat

ekeng said...

I love Gu Lao Rou...It's my all time favorite :)

Rei said...

Hi, I was at Bento Pet's blog and been blog hopping. Your blog is very interesting. May I link your blog to mine? Many thanks. :)


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

cK: yes, gu lao rou is really quite yummy but smtimes i too go for the ones not covered with the sauce.

b: i must notice how u hold chopsticks next time we eat together :)

rasa M: ya, once it's battered n fried, pork n chicken tastes the same (Wey is next to me n he says "No, the texture's different mom." Very discerning tastebuds.

yi: yes, i noticed too. ming's the less fussy of u both

denise: tt's really scary, when ppl know me n i don't know them. why weren't u there?? Louis did very well! n thanks to ur friends 4the compliment. did they tell u i made a fool of myself on stage? truth is, i really didn't hear what Louis said, n Hub grabbed a handful of my baggy jeans so i didn't feel the pinch n let all the photo bugs down by not giving them the expression i was supposed to give...

hazza:Blue Dragon sauce hah. i must look out for tt :)

pam: i know, meat shd be savory :)

ekeng: i've noticed it's a guy dish

rei: very welcome!

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

oh yes of cuz
they told me the hub trying to pinch ur butt ! but u gave a "no respond" , plus saying something like u guys been married many years? *ArGh, that's cute*

hey guess what! today i had lunch in LIkas! and Louis Pang just next to my table! I was like, keep staring at him, but I cant doing anything!!! I dont have camera with me! otherwise I request a Group pic =p

Anonymous said...

So funny. I cooked the same dish last nite for the first time and was just browsing your blog and I saw this!! I usually detest Sweet and sour anything because it's so umm... foodcourt chinese food but i guess once in a while is ok! Will blog about it soon!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

kelly: tt's exactly what I think of s & s pork: 'foodcourt chinese food'!

DigMe said...

I know this is quite an old post but on my first trip to China in 1996 I was in Hefei for 6 weeks and this dish was a favorite. When I lived up in Changchun for a year I could rarely find it but I sometimes enjoyed other "sweet and sour" dishes such as the "tang cu" variety. Gu Lao rou will always have a special place in my heart and belly though. Maybe I'll find it again when I visit Wuhan next summer.

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