Classic Sweet and Sour Pork

With the influence of Western culture, the Cantonese now use ketchup in this dish. Who’s to say this sweet and sour pork recipe upgrade isn’t just as authentic as the old ways?

Recipe kindly contributed by Jeremy Pang from his book Chinese Unchopped.

Classic Sweet and Sour Pork
PREP TIME 20 mins COOK TIME 10 mins MAKES 4


  • 300g pork shoulder steaks

  • 200g cornflour, seasoned with 1⁄4 teaspoon
  • salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 onion (optional)
  • 1⁄2 green pepper (optional)
  • vegetable oil, for frying

The Marinade

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 egg

The Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons tomato ketchup

  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dark soy sauce

Preparation method

  1. Cut the meat into 2cm cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the marinade ingredients and, using your hands, massage the pieces until they are evenly coated, then add the seasoned cornflour and rub it into the meat. The meat will first start to stick together in clumps but will start to separate as you continue to rub it. Once all the meat has completely separated it is ready to be fried.
  2. Cut the onion and pepper, if using, into 2cm dice. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small prep bowl or ramekin. 
Build your wok clock: place your pork dice at 12 o’clock, then arrange the onion and pepper, if using, and the sauce bowl clockwise around your plate.
  3. Half fill a large pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until the tip of a wooden chopstick or skewer starts to fizz after a second or so in the oil. Carefully add the marinated meat and deep-fry until golden brown, about 
5–6 minutes. Remove the pieces carefully with a slotted spoon and drain well on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
  4. In a separate wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over a high heat until smoking-hot. Add the onion and pepper, if using, and stir-fry for 1 minute until the onions are lightly browned, then pour over the sauce and bring to a vigorous boil.

  6. Once boiling, add the pork pieces and toss through a few times to mix everything together. Serve immediately.
  7. Tip: The key to a good sweet-and-sour is to ensure the meat is as crispy as possible and that there is just enough sauce to wrap around the meat, but not so much that the meat is swimming in it. If the sauce is not quite sticky or thick enough, continue to boil it 
in the wok for 30 seconds or so longer before adding the meat.