Recipe video above. The best ever Sweet and Sour Pork recipe is loaded with tricks the Chinese have been using for centuries: double dredgeand double fry for extra crispy, cornflour instead of flour, economical pork used for juiciness, but tenderised with baking soda so you'd swear they're pricey chops, and a sauce that's not sickeningly sweet. Don't let the list of ingredients daunt you. There's a lot of repeat ingredients!OVEN option provided in notes. Because sometimes, you just have to....
Keyword: crispy chinese pork, crispy pork, sweet and sour pork
Tenderised Marinated Pork:
400g/14ozpork scotch roast (aka pork neck, collar butt) or shoulder / butt,cut into 2cm / 4/5" cubes (Note 1)
1/2onion, finely grated (Note 2a)
1tspgarlic, finely grated (Note 2a)
1tspginger, finely grated (Note 2a)
3/8tspbaking soda (bi-carb)(Note 2b)
2tbsplight soy sauce, or all purpose (Note 3)
5tbspcornflour/cornstarch - for mixing in
1/2cupcornflour/cornstarch - for Coating
2 - 3cupsvegetable or canola oil
Sweet & Sour Sauce:
1/3cupapple cider vinegar(or 1/4 cup normal white vinegar)
3tbsppineapple juice(from a 227g/8oz can pineapple pieces in juice, preferably no added sugar, Note 4)
3tbspketchup(or Aussie tomato sauce)
1tbspsoy sauce, light
1tspOyster Sauce(Note 5)
1garlic clove, finely chopped
2tspginger, finely chopped
1onion(medium), cut into 2.5cm/ 1" cubes (brown, white, yellow)
1/2red capsicum/bell pepper(large), cut into 2.5cm / 1" cubes
1/2green capsicum/bell pepper(large), cut into 2.5cm / 1" cubes
1cuppineapple pieces(from the can of pineapple under Sauce)
Mix Pork with Marinade. Marinade 18 to 24 hours. (See Note 1 for marinating time for other cuts)
Rack & warm oven: Preheat oven to 80°C/175°F and place rack on tray - to keep pork warm.
Sauce: Place all Sauce ingredients EXCEPT water in a large jug or small bowl. Mix until combined, then mix in water.
Be Stir Fry Ready: Have all ingredients lined up, ready to toss in. After Fry #2, things move quickly.
Coating #1: Mix 5 tablespoons cornflour into the pork and leave for 5 minutes. At first, it will be white from the cornflour, but after a while it will sweat and make the cornflour (mostly / partially) wet, and will be sticky (this is key for coating to stick).
Coating #2: Spread 1/2 cup cornflour in a shallow bowl. Coat pork, shaking off excess, and pile onto a plate.
Reserve cornflour in case you need to dust again just prior to frying. Pork should be at least half white when you put it into the oil (if not, just sprinkle with reserved cornflour).
Fried Crispy Pork (Note 6 for oven):
Heat oil: Pour enough oil into a large saucepan or small pot so it's 2.5cm / 1" deep. Heat to 180°C/350°F (or until pork immediately starts sizzling when you dip it in).
Fry #1: Cook pork in batches, being sure not to crowd the pot, for 3 minutes until golden. Drain on rack. This step is just to cook the pork. It takes me 4 batches.
Fry #2: Turn the stove up slightly and heat oil to 200°C/390°F. Starting with the coolest pork, add half the pork (you can crowd the pot) and cook for 1 1/2 minutes, or until pork is deep golden brown and crispy. Transfer to rack, repeat with remaining pork - I do 2 batches.
Keep warm in oven.
Sauce & Stir Fry:
Heat oil in a very large skillet over high heat.
Add garlic, ginger and onion, stir for 1 1/2 minutes. Add capsicum and stir for 2 minutes.
Add Sauce & pinapple, then let it come to a rapid simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes until it thickens - when you drag the spoon across the base, a path should briefly appear (see video at 1 min 53 s).
10 second toss: Add pork, then QUICKLY toss to coat - aim for 10 seconds!
Serve asap! Pour onto serving plate, serve immediately! Will stay crispy for around 5 minutes then starts softening but still has a solid coating. This is just the reality of Sweet and Sour Pork, even at restaurants!
DOUBLE vs SINGLE FRY - Double fry definitely stays crispy for longer once sauced, but for an express version, just do a single fry for 1 minute longer, until it's deep golden brown. It still stays crispy for a few minutes, and nobody has EVER complained!1. Pork - pork scotch (aka pork neck / collar butt) and pork shoulder/butt are recommended for best flavour and juiciest pork pieces. Usually requires slow cooking to make them tender - the baking soda and cornflour in the marinade is a Chinese tenderising secret - also see how to tenderise Chicken and Beef. This juicy cut means we can cook for a bit longer to get the outside super crispy without the inside becoming dry and tough.Other pork cuts can be used but because they are leaner, are more prone to drying out due to overcooking before the outside of the pork gets crispy - though the marinade helps counteract this. General rule: the more tender/expensive the pork, less minimum marinating time required:
Loin, steaks, tenderloin (aka fillet) - 3 hours to overnight
Anything labelled "cutlets" or "steak" - - 3 hours to overnight
Pork leg - per recipe, 24 hrs
Do not use - belly, bone in ribs, or pickled pork
2a. Finely grated - for best flavour, use a microplane so it's grated really finely and becomes wet and "juicy".2b. Bicarb / baking soda - If you don't have a 1/8th teaspoon measure, just measure 1/4 teaspoon PLUS half of the 1/4 teaspoon. That totals 3/8 teaspoons.Baking soda is the Chinese restaurant secret to tenderise meat, also used for chicken and beef in everything (such as stir fries, soups and noodles). 3/8 teaspoon is the maximum that can be used before you start tasting it (for chicken and beef, I use more for speedier results but rinse it off).3. Soy sauce - do not use Dark Soy Sauce or sweet soy sauce. Read more about different types of soy sauce here.4. Pineapple - I like to use canned so I can use the juice in the Sauce which adds extra flavour. If you prefer to use fresh pineapple, just use more water instead (don't worry, the Sweet & Sour Sauce has plenty of flavour already!)5. Vegetarian Oyster Sauce - Nowadays you can find vegetarian oyster sauce (suitable for vegans) even at supermarket. For example, Ayam Vegetarian Oyster Sauce. It's actually pretty good!And here's homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce recipe by Omnivore's Cookbook, a Chinese recipe blog. I was extremely impressed with it.6. Best baking method - I tried a bunch of ways, and this is the method that yields the best results. Not quite as crispy as deep frying, but certainly crispy enough for a very respectable Sweet & Sour Pork. The brief pan fry is key here to seal in some crispiness - without this step, the coating is just kind of powdery, not crispy at all.
BIGGER pieces - cut the pork into 2.5cm / 1" cubes, marinate and coat per recipe;
Place rack on tray, spray rack with oil;
Pour in enough oil to cover base of large skillet, heat to medium high;
Add pork, then turn to make each side golden (this is the tedious part) - about 2 minutes in total, no longer; then
Place on rack, spray with oil, bake 13 - 15 minutes at 220°C/430°F until deep golden. Use per recipe.
7. Air fryer? Haven't tried, would love to know if anyone does. I would spray pork pieces with oil then air fry. I see no reason why it wouldn't work.8. Reuse oil - the pork is neutral enough in flavour such that the oil can be reused twice more. Cool oil, line a mesh colander with paper towel, strain, and store. Use for any savoury fried foods.9. Recipe source: terrific teachings from watching various Chinese YouTube channels but notably this recipe from Pups with Chopsticks for the double dredge method. She recommends potato starch - once adapted to my recipe, I really didn't notice a difference with cornflour so I stuck with that.Paired with my Sweet and Sour Sauce (from this recipe and this one) though slightly amended to make it less rich (given we are frying here) and the tenderising method & times based on much experimenting done at RTE HQ! (The pork matrix is HUGE!)10. Nutrition - none. There's just no way I can calculate how much oil is on the pork. What I can say for sure is that the higher temp double fry = less oily surface!