Monday, May 25, 2009

Sweet & Sour Pork

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)

The Vegetables
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.


  1. sigh, there is nothing like mommy's cooking! but this will have to looks fantastic!

  2. Your sweet and sour looks terrific!I can see why your hubby loves it!

  3. This is just lovely, I love all the colors. It looks delicious!

  4. I left you a couple of awards on my blog, come pick them up:)

    This dish looks fantastic, Its so colorful and the flavors sound delicious!

  5. How beautiful..look at all the colors! I love sweet & sour, thanks for sharing this with us :P

  6. I agree...the colours are stunning and one of my favorite things to eat....sweet and sour! You have this nailed down I am thinking and you do say it is one of your 'dozen really good' recipes...grin. I must try your marinade...sherry eh? Never tried that. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Katy this dish looks very delicious. I'm going to make some fried rice and we can share ok? XO

  8. This reminds me of home! Yummy with rice!

  9. The colors in this dish just sing. I'm always challenged by making Chinese dishes that taste good. I think this would be worth trying for sure.

  10. Wow Katy the colors in this dish are incredible. This looks so yummy!

  11. Sweet and sour pork sounds fantastic! First time here, you have a great blog!

  12. This looks incredibly flavorful and so delicious! It is just loaded with lovely flavors and veggies-yum!

  13. The colors of this dish always speak to my cooking soul. This is a really nice version of an old, and usually overly sweet, favorite. I like this a lot. Have a wonderful day.

  14. This sounds a little time consuming, but completely worth it! I love a good sweet and sour pork, but have never found a great recipe for it. I can't wait to try this one out. If you have been making it over 30 years it must be out of this world!

  15. I love the colors in that dish and the flavors. I also enjoy using old cookbooks. My favorites are a set from the mid 70's called the Doubleday Cookbook. To this day it is still one of the best ones I have and one of my favorites.

  16. Yours is such a beautiful dish! So many similar dishes are awash in a syrupy red glaze to the point you can't even appreciate the other ingredients. Your colors are very appetizing. But what about the cucumber? I see you don't include it, but is that a traditional ingredient for this dish? My experiences with Sweet and Sour Pork are probably so Americanized I wouldn't recognize the traditional dish if it slapped me in the face. :) Thanks for sharing. I'm craving Sweet and Sour Pork now!

  17. My mouth is watering while reading this recipe. I love the steam in the picture, I can almost smell it- I think! Lovely dinner!

  18. Tammy, I agree with you about the red syrupy glaze. I just can't eat it. I don't know if the cucumber is authentic to the recipe; it was included in the original that I copied years ago. We didn't have it at home (even though cucumbers were plentiful from my mother's garden) so it may have been a Sunset cookbook "special ingredient". I don't think it belongs in this recipe, but I could be wrong.

    My mother didn't go through all the marinating and she added the chunks of pineapple from the canned pineapple (I used only the juice, but have added the pineapple when I add the veggies.) The recipe is pretty versatile about what you want to add or take away, I think. Adjust the amount of sauce if you decide to add more meat or veggies. I've made this with country spare ribs, oh so good! Messy, but good!!

    Heidi, to me this is THE sweet and sour pork recipe. There are others that are very good, I think, but this has a depth of flavor that transcends all others, probably because of the way the pork is prepared and the sauce cooked separately. It takes me about 90 minutes, starting from when I gather the ingredients, to the time we're actually sitting and eating this.

    Debbie, I return to my old cookbooks and old favorites time and time again as well. So many good food memories, but don't we both just LOVE making new memories, too LOL!!

    Robin Sue, thank you for stopping by. I am so happy to see you here and welcome you. I hope you come back and visit often!

  19. Katypi! I love the gleaming look of the photo - I just imagine the tender-crispness of those veggies! YUM!! YUM!!

  20. I love how colorful this dish looks! It sounds wonderful!

  21. I have been craving these flavors lately. What a beautiful meal!

    I see you everywhere I visit so I thought I should come over and visit you too!

  22. I'm bookmarking this Katy it sounds so good!! I love all those colors in there!

  23. This looks delicious! Twelve recipes - I'll have to think about mine!

  24. This looks great and very worth the extra steps!!!


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