One of my favorite meals that my mother made was a sweet and sour pork dish that she called "puck-eye." With what seemed like only a few ingredients she was able to make a dinner that my brothers and I have longed remembered and reminisce about. This is not her recipe, but it is one that I've had and loved for over thirty years and to me, makes what's served in restaurants pale in comparison. The vegetables are tender crisp, the pork is marinated and separately stir fried, and the sauce has a very good balance of sweet and sour. For me, there is no better recipe than this for sweet and sour pork. Sweetie-Pi agrees.
There are a number of steps to this recipe, and typical with Chinese food, most of the time is spent in preparation. It is probably not a weekday meal, but I can virtually guarantee that if you like sweet and sour, you'll love this!
Sweet and Sour Pork
(copied from a Sunset cookbook back in the early 70's, and moved with me countless times)
1 medium sized onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup sliced celery (sliced diagonally about 1/4 inch thick)
2 carrots, sliced diagonally about 1/8 inch thick)
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and cut into thin slivers, optional
1 thin cucumber, sliced 1/8 inch thick (I omit this!)
1 green pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares (I used a green and a red for color)
1 can (about 5 oz) bamboo shoots, drained
2 tablespoons sesame seed, lightly toasted in frying pan (omitted because Sweetie-Pi has a sensitivity to seeds)
Sweet and Sour Sauce: Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sauce thickens and becomes clear.
Marinade: Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sherry, 4 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt (which I omit because of the soy sauce), 3 cloves minced garlic and a crushed 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root.
For the pork: 3 pounds lean pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes and about 1 cup of water.. Place pork in pan with cold water. Cover and bring to boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Pour marinade over cooled pork. Marinate 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off. Dredge pork in 6 tablespoons of cornstarch.
Heat oil in large frying pan until very hot (390F). Fry pork a few cubes at a time until crisp and brown. (This happens very quickly.) Remove and drain on paper towels. Keep warm.
Pour off all but 3 or 4 tablespoons of the oil from pan. Reheat until very hot.
Toss in onion, celery carrots and ginger. Stir fry vigorously one minute. Add pepper and fry one minute more being careful not to overcook.
Return pork to pan and pour in warm sweet and sour sauce. Stir until thoroughly hot. Serve at once.
**Cooks Notes ~ Tonight this seemed particularly salty to me, so I would use a low sodium soy sauce. I used a dry sherry and I thought the flavor it imparted was too strong, so I think a sweet sherry might be a better.
I had read somewhere that in order to be considered a good cook, you only needed to know how to make a dozen really good recipes. This is one of mine. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.