Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It's there on every menu you get at a Chinese restaurant. Nuggets of pork, coated in a greasy batter, covered with a gloppy sweet sauce colored a shade of red that couldn't possibly come from nature. I'm talking, of course, about sweet and sour pork (or chicken). It's the "safe" choice on the menu, the one that the person who doesn't like chinese food always gets (although, if that's the chinese food you're eating, is it any wonder you don't like the food?).
This week's recipe is, you guessed it, sweet and sour pork. But it's light years from what you get in most restaurants, with a brown sauce that manages the balance between sweet and sour quite well. I'm not much on "sweet and sour" anything (although my wife always gets this, go figure), but I have to admit this dish was pretty good. Aside from having to deep-fry, it was pretty easy, and came together in a flash.
3/4 lb boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2 in thick strips
peanut oil (for frying)
3/8 cup cornstarch (or more)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
3 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp black chinese vinegar
1 tsp light soy sauce
3 3/4 tsp cornstarch
3 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
3/4 c chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil
Place pork strips in a bowl, add marinade ingredients, mix, and let sit for 20 minutes.
Combine the first 5 sauce ingredients (salt, sugar, vinegar, soy and cornstarch) in a bowl and set aside.
Heat oil for deep frying to 300deg. Beat eggs together and add cornstarch to make a thick batter (you may need more cornstarch, that's fine). When the oil's hot, add the pork to the batter and stir to coat the strips. Deep fry the pork strips in batches for about 3 minutes or so, just to cook the pork through. You may need to stir the pork with a chopstick or metal spoon to prevent clumping. Drain on paper towels.
After all the pork is fried, raise the temperature of the oil to 375deg, and deep fry the pork in one or two batches, this time until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
Heat the oil in a clean wok or saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the stock, bring to a boil, and then add the sauce ingredients you prepared ahead of time. Stir briskly to thicken.
When it's reached the desired consistency, add the scallions and sesame oil.
Put the pork in a serving dish, pour the sauce over, and serve immediately with rice.
And there you go, sweet and sour pork that it is far removed and vastly superior to the "red glop".