This is my version of an old Cantonese classic, which unfortunately tends to be ill-served by some Chinese restaurants. Many people’s experience of sweet and sour pork is of chunks of meat that have been dunked in a thick, heavy batter, over-fried in dirty oil, then doused in an MSG-laden sauce made from tomato sauce, tinned pineapple, cornflour and perhaps a few vegetables. My version uses fresh ingredients, and that makes all the difference. Just make sure you start the day before, as the pork needs to marinate overnight.
My version uses fresh ingredients, and that makes all the difference. Just make sure you start the day before, as the pork needs to marinate overnight.
- 2 x 300 g (10 oz) pork neck fillets
- 1½ tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 3 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 750 g (1 ½ lb) ripe pineapple – about half a small pineapple
- 150 g (5 oz) ‘Goong Goong’s pickles’
- ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp shao hsing wine
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt, extra
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp ginger julienne
- 1 small ox-heart (beef) tomato, finely sliced
- ½ cup yellow capsicum (bell pepper) julienne
- ¼ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- ¼ cup cornflour (cornstarch), extra vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 1 pinch Sichuan pepper and salt
- 1 small cucumber, cut into julienne
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Serve as part of a banquet for 4
Marinating time: overnight
- Cut pork fillets in half lengthways and then into bite-sized pieces on the diagonal. Blend cornflour with water in a medium-sized bowl until dissolved. Add pork, egg yolks, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Peel pineapple and remove the core. Finely slice into pieces. Cut pickled vegetables into julienne and set aside, together with pineapple. Place vinegar, wine, sugar and extra salt in a small pan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add garlic and ginger, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add pineapple, pickled vegetables, tomato and capsicum, and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until tomato has broken down slightly and the flavours are balanced. Remove sauce from stove and set aside.
- Combine plain flour and extra cornflour. Add to the marinated pork and mix well. Heat vegetable oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Deep-fry pork in batches over high heat for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium and fry for another 2 minutes, or until pork is almost cooked through. Remove from wok, using a slotted spoon, and drain on kitchen paper.
- Gently reheat the sweet and sour sauce. Finally, return all the pork to the hot oil and deep-fry for a further 3 minutes, or until lightly browned, crispy and cooked through. Remove pork from wok and drain well on kitchen paper.
- Arrange pork on a platter and sprinkle with Sichuan pepper and salt. Garnish with cucumber and serve immediately with a bowl of the warm sweet and sour sauce.