Tangy sweet & sour pork

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By Chef Ed Dychauco

Pots and Pans

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


AN exceptionally popular Chinese dish, this has also become a Pinoy favorite of all ages, especially in special gatherings, be it prepared at home or ordered in a restaurant.

I cannot remember when I first tasted this, but I am quite sure this became one of my “signature” dishes at home, especially to my siblings when I was started to enjoy cooking way back during my younger years.
They really like the tangy sauce and the crunchiness of the coating of the meat (be it chicken or pork or fish) which is generously covered with a layer of flour mixture and deep fried till crisp with the inside still soft, tender and juicy.

I learned to love this while growing up in Chinatown in Manila because this is one of the most requested dishes in almost all occasion, be it birthdays, or just plain weekend chow out with family or relatives.
And naturally, it is quite expensive to keep on ordering, so why not learn how to make this at home?

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With my late sister, Gloria, who was already super excellent “cook” (chef was unheard of then!) with expertise in Chinese regional cuisine, I got to learn this through her at home.

It was of course a lot of trial and error, sometime the sauce is not sour enough or sometimes it is too sweet, or the meat is too crisp and dry or not done yet.

Whatever the reason, it really didn’t matter because we always ended up enjoying it with the family with lots of steamed rice.

And I am sure everyone has their moments with this dish, too. And also have stories to tell regarding this encounter.

Meat can be pork or chicken, although some uses beef, too.

Fish would be another favorite, although some would mistake this dish for ‘escabeche,’ which has some similarities.

Meats are cut into cubes or sliced, just like the fish, or sometime called fillets.

Meatless bean curds are also made into this dish which is certainly good for the vegetarians.

Personally, I like this with lots of cube pineapples because it really gives a lot of flavor within the palate so much so with the crunchiness and delicate flavors of the bell peppers and onions once mixed with the meat!

To prevent sogginess, the sauce should be added to the fried meats just before it is eaten, unless one likes to eat this mushy, which at times I do not mind, especially when I am super hungry! Or became a take-out item as left-overs!

You can definitely ask the restaurant to separate the sauce for you if you order this for take-out.

And if in case the meats are no longer crispy when you get home, you can heat it up either in the oven or re-fry them in hot oil.

Meat should be tender and be marinated with soy sauce or a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar for a few hours to get the best flavor.

They are coated with a mixture of flour and cornstarch with a little salt and pepper for added tang.

Dipping them in egg mixture before dipping them in flour would be a great thing to do although not necessary.

Make sure pieces are of the same size and deep fried in oil.

Do not crowd the pieces or you would end up with oily cuts!
Let the oil drip though a colander or place them in a paper towel to absorb excess fats.

As for the sauce, mix the pineapple juice, catsup, soy sauce, vinegar in a bowl. Set aside.

Saute the cubed onions and bell pepper in a little oil then, add the carrots chunks.

Pour the mixture and let it boil.

Add the cornstarch/water mixture to thicken the sauce.

Pour over the meat or meat can also be added to the sauce instead and serve while still warm.

Enjoy with lots of rice!

½ kilo pork tenderloin, chicken or fish slices
¼ cup Soy sauce or soy sauce/vinegar mixture
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup flour
1.2 cup cornstarch
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 pcs eggs
Oil for frying
1 pc carrot, cubed or sliced
1 pc bell pepper, cubed or sliced
Pineapple chunks or tidbits
1/3 cup catsup
¼ cup soy sauce
¾ cup pineapple juice or water
¼-1/3 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1/3 cup water
Few drops of sesame oil if desired

[E-mail: potsnpans1976@yahoo.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 06, 2014.

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