I love Chinese food like the sun loves the Earth – I want to keep it ever close to me, never let it go. Sadly, my wife doesn’t share my lust for Chinese – or at least, she wants to be sure it’s good Chinese, which is difficult to find in our immediate orbit.

ssporkThen last night, she asked if I could come up with a sweet and sour pork recipe.

Can I? CAN I?

I don’t know if I even repeated the question before I was in the grocery store for fixings.

That said, I’m a bigger fan of Sichuan than Cantonese dishes. I like heat, whereas she wanted something sweeter than my typical fare. I checked a few online resources before finding Bee’s advice at Rasa Malaysia – using plum and worcestershire sauce in place of the glommy staple of orange juice. I didn’t have any plum sauce on hand, so I substituted chili paste which would add some sweetness while also adding the spice I crave.

Here’s the recipe, in order of prep work and suggested timing. Stir fry is always tricky at first. Just remember, when cooking the vegetables, the densest materials go in first, followed by those which are more delicate (such as mushrooms) or which you want to stay crunchier (celery, asparagus).

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin (cut into 1″ cubes)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • garlic & ginger to taste

Mix all ingredients and marinate, refrigerated, for 1 hour.

  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 4 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chili paste (I use sambal olek)
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

Whisk all ingredients together for the sweet and sour sauce.

  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into 1″ strips
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut into 1″ strips
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 1″ wedges
  • 1 lb asparagus, cut into 1″ diagonal … stalk things
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1″ diagonal slices
  • 1 can water chestnuts

Heat wok over screaming high heat until water flicked into the surface sizzles and evaporates.

Coat wok with sesame oil and cook pork tenderloin until done through, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove pork and add vegetables in the order listed, each for 1 minute’s time – garlic and ginger, peppers, onion, asparagus & celery & water chestnuts (so the aromatics for 4 minutes total, peppers for 3, onion for 2, etc) stirring constantly.

Add pork back to wok with vegetables and mix in sweet and sour sauce, stirring to coat. Serve immediately with crispy chow mein noodles and scallions to top. Jasmine rice is your best choice for a serving bed, as it holds tighter to the sauce than noodles.