Authentic Cantonese Pork
Authentic Cantonese Pork (or my sweet and sour pork ). When you go out to or have a take away from your local Chinese Restaurant you will most likely be eating Cantonese style cuisine. The recipes are often copies of authentic Cantonese dishes adapted for Western tastes. This is a huge shame as Cantonese is revered in China as one of the most celebrated national styles of cooking.
In the eighteenth century, the Qing Dynasty allowed the Guangdong region, home to Cantonese, to be opened to the first foreign traders. Natives from the area were amongst the first immigrants to settle in the United Kingdom and America exporting their traditions and food.
Traditional Cantonese cuisine is all about simple dishes. Letting the flavour of the key ingredients stand out. The recipes often use fish and seafood from the region’s coast and the abundant agricultural produce.
The key flavours in Cantonese cooking are the ‘trinity’ of scallions or spring onions, ginger, and garlic, with the addition of rice wine and soy sauce. Spices and herbs are only used in moderation. Although fresh coriander is often used as a garnish. The most popular spice is Chinese Five Spice. Stir-frying in a wok is the principle method of cooking.
It’s Sweet and Sour ( NOT )
The most abused Cantonese recipe is the probably Sweet and Sour. Cannonball sized lumps of stodgy, deep-fried dough floating in over-sweet, violent orange coloured, gloopy sauces. Please don’t even get me started on pineapple. Properly done authentic Cantonese pork is delightful and my recipe is I hope a little more delicate than your local takeaways.
The joy of many, but not quite all, Chinese recipes is they are very quick and easy. Once you have a few key staples in your cupboard you have any number of dishes available to you. And the fried egg? Well I had this dish served to me in China town and have served it like this ever since. The egg yolk adds another dimension altogether. Enjoy.
AS ALWAYS A NOTE OF CAUTION BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN FRYING IN HOT OIL.
For the Sauce
- 1 large Carrot peeled and cut into fine strips
- 1 Red Pepper diced
- 1 small bunch Spring Onions washed and very finely sliced
- 1 small Red Chilli finely sliced ( you can omit this but I like a little kick of Chilli )
- 6 Cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 3 cm piece Ginger peeled and finely chopped
- A generous pinch Chinese Five Spice
- 2 Cloves
- 1 tablespoon Corn Flour approximately
- 100 ml quality Chicken Stock
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 2 tablespoons Soft Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Rice Wine
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
- A small bunch Coriander for garnishing
For the Crispy Fried Pork
- 500 gram Pork Loin skin removed, washed and diced
- 2 Egg Whites
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 60 gram Cornflour
- 1 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1.5 litres Vegetable Oil
For the Sauce
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and stir-fry the carrots, garlic and ginger for two to three minutes then add the pepper.
- In a small pan, heat the chicken stock, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, cloves and Chinese five spice and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for five minutes then thicken with the cornflour mixed with a little water and the tomato puree.
- After another five minutes simmering, strain into the wok and set on a very low heat.
For the Pork
- Sieve the cornflour into a large bowl and add a generous amount of salt and cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites and lemon juice.
- Dip the pork cubes into the corn flour, the egg whites and back into the corn flour.
- In your wok or a large heavy bottomed pan heat the oil to 160°C / 320 F using a thermometer to check.
- If you do not have a thermometer have a few cubes of stale white bread to hand. Place in a bread cube in the oil if it rises to the surface and cooks to a golden brown in a couple of minutes the oil is hot enough.
- Fry the pork in batches carefully lowering into the hot oil, for around six to eight minutes or until the batter is crisp and golden. Turn from time to time with a large slotted spoon.
- When the pork is cooked, remove from the hot oil, using the slotted spoon, and drain on kitchen paper and keep hot in a warm oven.
- When all the pork is cooked place into the hot sauce with the finely sliced spring onions and vegetables . Stir and then serve with steamed rice and garnish with fresh coriander ( add an egg if you are feeling adventurous ).
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