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Sweet and Sour Pork

Unlike the gooey sweet dish most North Americans know as sweet and sour pork, this version, based on a recipe from Sichuan cooking expert Fuchsia Dunlop, is a combination of crunchy, deep-fried pork and a tangy sauce. Use peanut oil for frying. It splatters less than other oils at high temperature and doesn’t leave an oily residue on the pork. Serve with steamed rice and a side of stir-fried vegetables.
SERVINGS
6
PREP TIME
35 min
COOK TIME
20 min
Dairy-Free

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup Chinkiang black rice vinegar (see Note)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 6 scallions, green parts only, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
BATTER
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • Peanut oil for deep frying

INSTRUCTIONS

1 Trim the fat and any silver skin from the pork loin. Slice into ½-inch strips and place in a bowl. When all the meat is sliced, whisk together the rice wine and salt and pour it over the meat, mixing well to make sure each strip of pork is coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for the sauce. Whisk together the salt, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Set aside.

3 In a deep pan, heat several inches of peanut oil until very hot and shimmering. While the oil is heating, beat the eggs for the batter and stir in the cornstarch until it’s smooth and no lumps remain. Add the marinated pork to the batter and stir to coat. Once the oil is hot, drop the coated pork strips into the oil one at a time. Don’t crowd the pan and stir slightly to make sure the pieces don’t stick together. Fry until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a plate. Keep warm in a low oven as you fry the remaining batches of pork.

4 When all the pork has been fried, make the sauce. In a wok, heat the 3 tablespoons of peanut oil until shimmering, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the stock. Bring it to a boil and then stir in the reserved sauce ingredients. Stir until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the scallions and sesame oil.

5 Pour the sauce over the pork strips and serve immediately.

NOTE:
If you can’t find authentic Chinese ingredients in your local grocery store and you don’t have any Asian markets nearby, you can order them online. But if you’re in a hurry you can also substitute more easy-to-come-by ingredients.

Shaoxing rice wine is an amber cooking wine used in many Chinese dishes. It has a mild, nutty flavor. If you can’t find it locally, you can substitute cooking sherry. Both contain salt, so you won’t need to add quite as much to the finished product.

Chiankiang black vinegar (sometimes also spelled Zhenjiang) is an aged dark vinegar made by fermenting glutinous rice and wheat bran. It has a sweet, tangy, umami flavor, and is indispensable in traditional sweet and sour pork. It’s available in Asian markets or online. If you can’t find it, you can create a mixture of half balsamic vinegar and half white wine vinegar. Add an extra splash of soy sauce for the umami flavor. The taste will be similar, but not quite the same.

Products in This Recipe

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