A cantonese classic and probably the best known Chinese recipe, Sweet and Sour Pork, or “Gu Lao Rou”, is as flavorful as it sounds. With its perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors, crunchy yet tender texture, and delightful colors, this dish is an all time favorite at the dining table.
Delicious as it is, Sweet and Sour Pork is actually very easy to make. It’s flexible when it comes to ingredients and even the cooking method can be varied. Some chefs prefer to use boneless pork ribs, tenderloin, or fatty pork belly. Other ingredients can vary from pickled cabbage to colorful fruits. For Chef Luo, his first choice is fatty pork belly. The fat ensures a moist and tender texture, while the frying process makes it less greasy.
Sweet and Sour Pork Ingredients:
- Pork belly
- Bell pepper
- Liquid starch
- Starch powder
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- Brown sugar – 1/3 slab
- Lemon – half
- White vinegar – 2 tbsp
- Liquid starch – 1 tbsp
- Water – 1 cup
Sweet and Sour Pork Directions:
- Tenderize the meat using the back of the butcher knife, then cut the pork belly into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Mix meat with salt, sugar, egg yolk, and liquid starch, then lightly coat with one layer of starch.
- Cut onion and bell peppers into similarly size pieces.
- Prepare the sweet and sour sauce by boiling brown sugar slab and vinegar in water.
- Heat oil to 70% high and deep fry the meat until it floats to the top of the oil, then remove and set aside.
- Parboil the onion and bell peppers, then stir fry with pineapple pieces.
- Add in the sweet and sour sauce, and squeeze juice from half of a lemon, then thicken the mixture with starch.
- Once the sauce is boiling, add the meat, stir evenly and serve.
Sweet and Sour Pork Tips:
The secret to this dish lies in a perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors, which calls for the right amount of salt and seasoning.
Pounding the meat with the back of the knife tenderizes it, making it easier to absorb the seasoning.
How to know the meat is ready: Gently tap the meat, well-cooked meat will soon rise to the surface after the tap
Pour in the sauce before mixing in the meat so that the outer layer stays crispy.
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Origin of Sweet and Sour Pork:
- This dish is so appetizing with its combination of sweetness and tartness that it makes your mouth water.
- The crispy pork pieces are so moist and tender inside that people just gulp them down with a sound of “Gu Lu.”
- During Qing Dynasty, “sweet and sour pork chop” was a popular dish among many westerners in Guangzhou. Yet the need to spit out bones became a major complaint. The chefs solved this problem by replacing pork chops with lean meat, and so arose Gu Lao Rou. Gu Lao, in turn, recalls the long history of the pork chop dish.