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Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork recipe from Yan-kit's Classic Chinese Cookbook. Delicious Cantonese pork is crisp outside yet tender inside, topped with a well-balanced sweet and sour sauce.


To many people, sweet and sour pork is synonymous with bad Chinese take-away food: lumps of chewy pork wrapped in thick batter, covered with a gluey and sickening sweet and sour sauce. However, when well made – crisp outside yet tender inside, topped with a well-balanced sweet and sour sauce – this is one of the most appetizing Cantonese dishes.

Serve with Yan-Kit’s Plain Fried Rice. Get the recipe here.

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450g (1lb) lean belly pork, skinned and trimmed of excess fat
2.5ml (1⁄2tsp) salt
5ml (1tsp) thin soy sauce
1⁄2 egg, lightly beaten
45ml (3tbsp) cornflour
groundnut or corn oil for deep-frying
37.5ml (21⁄2tbsp) groundnut or corn oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 onion, skinned and roughly chopped
1 green pepper, halved, seeded and diced
100g (4oz) canned pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved
For the sauce:
10ml (2tsp) potato flour
60ml (4tbsp) water
60ml (4tbsp) pineapple juice
45ml (3tbsp) rice or wine vinegar
60–67.5ml (4–41⁄2tbsp) sugar
1.25ml (1⁄4tsp) salt
10ml (2tsp) thin soy sauce
30ml (2tbsp) tomato ketchup
7.5ml (11⁄2tsp) Worcestershire sauce

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1 Cut the pork into pieces, about 2.5 x 3 x 2cm (1 x 1⁄4 x 3⁄4 inches). Put into a bowl.

2 Add the salt and soy sauce and leave to marinate for 30–60 minutes. Stir in the egg to coat thoroughly.

3 Dredge the pork, piece by piece, through the cornflour, making sure it is evenly coated. It is not necessary to use up all the flour.

4 Half fill a wok or deep-fryer with oil. Heat to a temperature of 180°C (350°F) or until a cube of stale bread browns in 60 seconds. Add the pork and deep-fry for about 1 minute in 1 or 2 batches; separate the pieces with a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon if they stick together. Drain on kitchen paper. This step can be done ahead of time.

5 Prepare the sauce: in a bowl dissolve the potato flour in the water and pineapple juice. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and stir to blend.

6 Heat a frying pan or saucepan (unless you have another wok) until hot. Add 22.5ml (11⁄2tbsp) oil and swirl it around. Add the garlic and onion, stir a few times and then add the green pepper. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes over a medium heat and season with salt, if desired. Add the pineapple chunks. Pour in the well-stirred sauce and bring to the boil slowly, stirring constantly. (This sauce can be made in advance.)

7 Reheat the oil for deep-frying to a higher temperature of 190°C (375°F) or until a cube of stale bread browns in 50 seconds. Add the pork and again deep-fry in one batch for about 2–3 minutes to ensure that the outside is crisp and golden without the pork inside getting dry. Drain on kitchen paper and remove to a warm serving plate. Reheat the sweet and sour sauce and stir in the remaining 15ml (1tbsp) of oil. This prevents the sauce from being gluey. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the pork. Serve immediately.

Note: When reheated, sweet and sour pork will be soggy but it will still taste good.

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