Sweet and Sour Pork
This dish is made with tender pork tenderloin and fresh fruit. The sweet and sour sauce recipe is very simple to make (not thick and corn syrupy like the commercial ones) as is the batter.
I was first introduced to the preparation of Chinese cuisine at culinary school many years ago. The Chinese instructor made fun of our elaborate knife kits and commented that the only knife necessary in the kitchen was a cleaver. Later in my Hotel career I met a very talented Chinese chef, Mr. Chang at the Hyatt Regency in Lake Tahoe. I worked side by side with Mr. Chang in the kitchen and learned to really appreciate Chinese food at its finest, which I now call “Haute Chinese.”
Tips to making good Chinese food:
Organization and advance preparation is the key to preparing Chinese food in a wok. Get all of your chopping, dicing, slicing and mincing done prior to any stove work. Traditionally, sauces are made in the wok as the last stage in the cooking process. I find it much easier to make the sauce in advance and add it to the finished product at the last moment. The cooking process goes so quickly in a wok and there is little opportunity to consult the recipe once you begin. To ensure the best results, I recommend arranging the ingredients next to the cooking area in the order they will be used. Read the recipe thoroughly and feel comfortable about the various steps involved during the cooking process prior to heating your wok.
I love good Chinese food, but it can be difficult to find. Often it is prepared with the cheapest of ingredients to make it more cost effective and less expensive on the menu. This recipe takes a common Chinese dish and elevates it to a higher “haute” level as Mr. Chang did.
This wok is made from hammered carbon steel and is an invaluable tool if you enjoy making Asian foods at home. The thin carbon steel allows the pan to heat up quickly and to a very hot temperature, which is what you want for properly stir-fried dishes. It also means that this pan will need some maintenance, which I describe below. This wok is made for gas ranges with a rounded bottom, if you have electric or induction burner, search for a flat bottom wok that is intended for that specific use.
To hold the wok in place over the burner, I recommend that you also purchase an inexpensive “wok ring”, pictured below.
Using the right wok is so important to the correct preparation of these dishes that I highly recommend you get one if you are at all serious about preparing Asian foods at home. Avoid electric woks, they don’t get hot enough and you end up steaming your ingredients. Thin steel woks are preferable because they heat up so fast. Use a round bottom wok (and wok ring) on a gas stove, and a flat bottom wok on an electric range. A new wok will need to be cleaned and seasoned.
To Clean Your Wok —
Most steel woks come with a special coating that prevents “pre-consumer” rusting. To remove this coating, fill the wok with water and add 2 Tablespoons baking soda. Boil for about 15 minutes and pour out the water. Scrub well with a steel wool pad (Brillo) to remove the coating.
To Season Your Wok—
Now the wok needs to be seasoned, which prepares the pan for cooking. Dry the cleaned wok well and place over medium-high heat. When the pan gets very hot, add 1 teaspoon peanut oil or canola oil and use a paper towel (and metal tongs) to rub the oil over the entire inside surface. Repeat 2 more times with oil and paper towels and remove the pan from the heat. Take dry paper towels and rub the surface to remove any remaining oil and cool. The wok is now ready to use.
Maintaining Your Wok —
With continued use, a steel wok will develop a black coating (which is desirable), so it is important to no longer use a scouring pad on the surface. Wash in hot water with a sponge and detergent, and dry it well. Place the pan back on the heat to ensure dryness (a wet pan will rust) and rub with a little oil and a paper towel. Store your wok in a place where moisture will not come in contact with it.
Sweet and Sour PorkCourse: EntreeCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Medium
1 1/2 pounds Pork Tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silverskin
1 medium sized carrot, peeled
1/2 cup diced yellow onions, 1-inch pieces
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper, 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced fresh pineapple, 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 cup red grapes, seedless with stems removed
1 cup fresh strawberries, halved with stems removed
2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon dry white wine
3/4 cup cold water
1 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup Heinz ketchup
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon red food color
- Combine all of the batter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk
together until smooth. Reserve.
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients together in another bowl and whisk well. Reserve.
- Sweet and Sour Pork
- Cut pork tenderloin into 3/4-inch cubes.
- Remove the ends from the peeled carrot and slice thinly (1/8th inch) lengthwise. Place the strips on a cutting board and cut the strips on the bias into about 3/4-inch pieces.
- An hour before service, heat the 2 cups of canola oil in the wok, set over medium-high heat. Add the cubed pork to the batter and mix in gently to coat. When the oil is hot, drop about 15 pieces of the pork cubes individually into the oil. Stir briefly with a metal spoon to separate the individual pieces and cook for about 4 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the pork to a baking sheet lined with paper towel and repeat with the remaining pork, allowing the oil to heat for 2 minutes between batches. Remove the oil from the wok (strain, cool and refrigerate the oil to use again for deep-fat frying in the next few months), and wipe it clean with a paper towel.
- Just before service, place the wok over medium-high heat and pour in 2 Tablespoons of canola oil. Add the carrots to the wok and cook for 1 minute. Add the onions and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the peppers and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the pork and fruit to the wok and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add the sauce and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Serve over steamed rice.