I have to admit a dirty little secret. I watch Asian cooking shows for recipe ideas. Yeah, I know I should be an expert and what not. But I'm not. I only know a handful of recipes that have been passed down to me. Everything else is just a guess. Lots of trials and errors involved. So during one TV marathon, I watched as the chef on the screen finished an easy recipe of Sweet and Sour Chicken. Hmm, never made that. Heck, I've hardly even eaten it. But I was intrigued. And hungry for that matter. Off I went into the kitchen to try my best.
First the chicken. I used skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Trimmed of fat. Then I added dark soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. I mixed well and let that marinate well.
Now the sour part. I actually had some fresh pineapple on hand so I put a handful into the food processor.
I blended the fruit until smooth.
Then, into a hot pan, I added some canola oil. Any flavorless oil would work well here. I added the chicken and sauteed it until almost fully cooked (about 10 minutes). Then I added the pineapple puree and mixed well.
I let the dish simmer away until the sauce browned and started to thicken. Then I added the rest of the pineapple chunks until warmed though.
Plated and looks pretty good to me. Smelled really good. But that's not all folks. I wanted a side of vegetables too.
A hot pan with oil and chopped garlic.
I added sliced mushrooms. This is a variety of portabello, shitake, and button.
Once the mushrooms have browned and released its liquids, I put in the washed boy choy. Just layer that baby in. It'll wilt down. Use a pair of tongs to rotate and toss the vegetables.
Salt and cover. Once completely wilted down but still retaining a slight crunchy texture, remove from heat. You do not want mushy vegetables.
And another plated dish!
Serve with white rice which you can have working in the background if you have an electric rice cooker. So how did everything taste? Pretty darn good! The fresh pineapple really made a different with the chicken. The sauce was sweet but the pineapple chunks still retained its tartness. It was a nice contrast. The chicken itself was tender and really juicy. It was a great marriage of flavors. As for the bok choy, I enjoyed that very much as well. The leaves softened up quite a bit but the stems remained crunchy. The garlic flavored everything and the mushrooms added a nice heartiness to the otherwise light dish. Lastly, the white rice was a nice vehicle for the flavorful main dishes. I would definitely make this again.
My recipe is loosely based on the following recipe on the Cooking Channel:
Sweet and Sour Pork
Recipe courtesy Ching-He Huang, 2008
Prep Time: 15 min
Inactive Prep Time: --
Cook Time: 5 min
Serves: 2 servings
* 3 tablespoons roasted whole soya beans (soy) or dry-roasted peanuts*
* 1 teaspoon crushed dried chiles
* Freshly cracked white pepper
* *Can be found at specialty Asian markets
* Sweet and Sour Sauce
* 4 ounces pineapple juice
* 4 ounces canned pineapple
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 2 pork loin steaks (chops), trimmed of fat
* 2 tablespoons groundnut oil (peanut)
* Light soy sauce
* Splash Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
* Freshly cracked white pepper
* Cooked rice
* Choi Sum Salad, recipe follows, for service
* Choi Sum and Mixed Vegetable Salad with Pineapple Dressing
* Choi Sum
* 7 ounces Choi Sum leaves (flowering Chinese cabbage) or baby bok choy, washed, trimmed and sliced
* 4 ounces sugar snap peas, washed
* 2 large carrots, julienned
* 1 red bell pepper, sliced
* 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
* 8 ounces canned pineapple, sliced
* 2 spring onions (green), finely sliced
* Pineapple Dressing
>* 2 to 3 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) or olive oil
* 7 tablespoons pineapple juice
* 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or cider vinegar
* Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
This is my simple and healthy version of sweet and sour pork and will be unlike anything you would have tasted in a Chinese restaurant. I hope it's one you will love to cook time and time again. Instead of the crunchy batter, the crunchy roasted soya beans give texture and flavor. Roasted soya beans can be found in supermarkets and health food shops, but if you can't find them, crush some dry-roasted peanuts instead.
To make the coating: Add the soya beans, dried chiles, and white pepper to a grinder and whiz until coarsely ground. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl.
To make the sauce: Put the pineapple juice, pineapple, and lime juice into a blender, and whiz to a paste.
To make the pork: Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, bash the pork steaks until they are half their thickness. Press the pork steaks into the spice mix, pressing down so that the mixture sticks to the meat, turn and coat the other side.
Heat a wok or pan over a high heat, and add the groundnut oil. Add the pork steaks to the hot oil, and cook for 2 minutes, or until browned. Turn them over and cook the other side for 2 minutes, or until they are fully cooked. Remove the pork steaks from the wok, and set them aside in a warm place.
Pour the sweet and sour sauce into the wok, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened naturally. Season further, if required, with light soy sauce, rice wine and pepper.
Serve the sauce poured over the chops with a side of rice and Choi Sum Salad.
To make the choi sum: Toss the choi sum leaves, sugar snap peas, carrots, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, pineapple, and spring onions together in a large serving bowl.
To make the dressing: Mix the groundnut oil, pineapple juice, light soy sauce, rice vinegar, and black pepper in a small bowl, and stir well. Then, pour the dressing mixture over the salad just before serving. Toss well, and serve immediately.