Sweet and sour pork is arguably one of the most popular Chinese dishes in the United States, but as with most classic dishes, it’s difficult to find a go-to recipe. Enter this post!
The pork is coated and fried until crispy, with tons of nooks and crannies that catch the sweet and sour sauce.
How to Make Sweet & Sour Pork
You can use almost any cut of pork for sweet and sour pork, but I decided to use pork tenderloin.
That was what my father always used at the restaurant he worked at in upstate NY, where this dish was called “sweet and pungent pork.”
Turns out, if you call it sweet and pungent instead of sweet and sour, you can charge a little more for the same experience!
The key to making a good sweet and sour pork is to make a crispy pork and a sauce that uses no added water.
This ensures strong flavors that can clear your sinuses and satisfy any sweet tooth, not a watered down weak sauce.
Hope you enjoy this simple, yet delicious classic recipe!
Sweet & Sour Pork: Recipe Instructions
Add the marinade ingredients to the pork, and mix everything together until there is no visible liquid. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Next, make the sauce. Add 1 teaspoon of oil, ginger slices, and star anise to a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook until the ginger starts to caramelize (about 1 minute).
Next, add the ketchup. When that starts to sizzle, stir constantly until the ketchup starts to caramelize (about 2 minutes).
Take care not to burn the aromatics and ketchup—this step is essential to give the sauce a deeper, more complex flavor.
Next, add the white vinegar, sugar, and the juice from the canned pineapple.
Stir until the mixture starts to simmer, and the sugar is dissolved. Turn to the lowest heat and let the sauce simmer and reduce until the sauce just starts to coat a spoon (about 30 minutes).
The sauce needs this time for the flavors to meld. The sauce can be cooled and stored at this time, and you can double or triple the amount and store the sauce away in the refrigerator for future meals.
Heat 3 cups of oil to 350 degrees F in a small pot for frying. Using a small pot and frying in batches leaves you with less leftover oil to deal with.
After you’re done using it, always let the oil cool completely. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the oil before storing in the refrigerator.
Mix together the dredging ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper) in a shallow dish. Dredge the pork pieces in the flour mixture, dip into the egg, and then dredge with the flour again.
Fry the pieces in batches for about 2 to 3 minutes, or when they just start to get golden brown. Remove them from the oil and transfer to a sheet pan with a slotted spoon or spider.
Once you’re ready to combine everything, refry the pork in batches to crisp up the coating.
That’s right, they’re going to fry for a second time. This prevents the pork from getting too soggy when added to the sauce.
To a clean wok, add 1 tablespoon oil, the bell peppers, and onions.
Stir-fry for 30 seconds, and add the sauce and the pineapple.
Bring the mixture to a simmer to further thicken the sauce. At this time, you will likely need to add some cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce further.
Add half first and stir for 15 seconds; then decide if you need more. Remember the sauce will thicken more as it cools in the plate, so add only as much as you need.
I have to add another note to this recipe that this sauce is very sweet and very pungent! So at this point, you must taste the sauce and add water to it if it is too strong and by that, I mean too sweet or too sour.
Once you have it adjusted to your taste and the desired thickness, especially if you added more water, then go ahead to the next step and add the pork.
Next, add your crispy pork to the sauce. Toss to coat the pieces. Serve immediately!
Sweet and sour pork folks. Your family and friends will love this classic Chinese dish!