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How to Cook Sweet and Sour Pork - Hong Kong Michelin Three Star Chef Shares His Secrets

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Food + Beverage

A Michelin three-star chef at one of the world’s top Chinese restaurants shares his secret recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork with Fresh Fruit. Want to try cooking this at home? Keep Reading! I'm going to share his secrets with you!

Who doesn’t like sweet and sour pork? Surely this is the world’s most popular Chinese dish. But recipes vary, and not all restaurants get the mouth-watering dish right.

And forget about cookbooks and on-line recipes! I've seen some recipes that boggle the mind, including one that treated Sweet and Sour Pork  like a casserole, baking it in an oven! Were they serious?

But when a chef gets sweet and sour pork right, there is nothing  better than that perfect balance of sweet and sour - plus the crunchiness of the pork and the gooeyness of the sauce.

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Cantonese Cuisine is one of the Eight Great Cuisines of China, and many foodies consider it be be China's best cooking style. It is certainly the most popular Chinese cooking style in Hong Kong and overseas.

T’ang Court, meanwhile, is a fine-dining Cantonese restaurant with three Michelin stars – one of only four Chinese restaurants in the world that can make that claim.

Is T'ang Court one of the world's best Cantonese restaurants?

The stylish eatery was awarded three Michelin stars in 2009, when the respected French food guide launched its first Hong Kong - Macau edition. It has maintained three-star status ever since.

T'ang Court has also been recognized by the Forbes Travel Guide, Elite Travelers, Asian Cuisine, Wine Luxe Magazine, and U.S. Hotels Magazine.

The restaurant is located in The Langham, Hong Kong, a five-star hotel in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui district.

I was once invited to a banquet at the eatery, and I swear, the sweet and sour pork served at that banquet was about the best I've ever had.

So what is the secret behind T'ang Court's mouth-watering recipe for sweet and sour pork?

I got in touch with my good friends in the hotel’s public relations department and asked if the executive chef at T'ang Court would be willing to share the sweet and sour pork recipe with me.

Not only did Executive Chef Wong Chi Fai agree to my request, he allowed me watch him cook the dish in the hotel’s well-equipped kitchen.

Into the Kitchen

I must say, it was a privilege to watch Chef Chi Fai in action. He started by skillfully trimming fat from a huge chunk of pork. It took much longer than I had expected.

By the time he had finished trimming the fat, less than one-half of the original piece was left. He then proceeded to slice the pork lengthwise and side wise into bite sized chunks.

The pork was marinated in a mixture of cornflour, salt, and egg for 30 minutes before Chef Chi Fai swung into action at the stove.

The pork and other ingredients were cooked in stages with all of the drama of a fight scene in Chinese opera.

I could almost hear the drums beating and the cymbals clashing as Chef Chi Fai deep fried and pork and stir-fried the fruit and vegetables.

The climax was reached when the sauce hit the wok, and its intoxicating aroma filled the kitchen.

Moments later, I was back in the dining room, devouring Chef Chi Fai's creation. Would you believe I almost single-handedly consumed enough to feed six people? 

RECIPE

Ingredients

For convenience, the ingredients for sweet and sour pork with fresh fruit can be divided into three groups: solid, marinade, and sauce.

Ingredients for the each three of the groups are best prepared  in advance and set aside. Timing is key in Cantonese cookery. 

Solid Ingredients

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Solid Ingredients

  • 211 ml pork
  • 73 ml of pineapple (cut in cubes)
  • 8 longan (or lichee)
  • 4 strawberries
  • 6 wedges green bell peppers
  • 6 wedges yellow green peppers

Marinade Ingredients

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Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 ml salt
  • 1 ml cornflour
  • 1 egg

Sauce Ingredients

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Sauce Ingredients

  • 160 ml rice vinegar
  • 50 ml tomato sauce
  • 20 ml OK Fruity Sauce
  • 10 ml Worcestershire Sauce

METHOD

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1. Mix ingredients for sweet and sour sauce and set aside.

2. Trim fat from pork and cut into cubes.

3. Mix cornflower, salt, and egg in a bowl.

4. Marinate pork cubes in mixture for about 30 minutes.

5. Assemble all of the ingredients near the stove. 

6. Thoroughly heat oil in a wok.

7. Deep fry pork in oil until golden brown and set aside.

8. Quickly poach pineapple and strawberries in a small amount of water and set aside.

9. Fry bell peppers quickly in oil.

10. Add sweet and sour sauce and boil until thick.

11. Add pork and continue boiling.

12. Add the pineapple and strawberries, stir thoroughly, and serve immediately.

BON APPETITE!

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The recipe serves six people. It has been modified slightly for the convenience of home cooks.

The weight measurements used by professional chefs, for example, have been converted to the volume measurements more popular with home cooks.

THE VERDICT

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I've had my share of Sweet and Sour Pork in my day, and I must say - one ingredient in this recipe surprised me: strawberries.

Pineapple, yes! But strawberries? I don't think  I've ever been served this dish with strawberries before.

Despite my reservations, however, the strawberries - which I usually associate with desserts - were a very pleasant surprise! They worked surprisingly well.

What I particularly liked about this recipe was its simplicity. The number of ingredients was relatively small.

Perhaps those two "secret ingredients" - Worcestershire Sauce and OK Fruity Sauce - were an important short cut.

The proof, of course, is in he tasting, and I must say: this was the best Sweet and Sour Pork I have ever tasted. 

The only question is: can I do this at home? I'm going to try, and I'm going to document the experience and share it with you in a future post.

Chef's Bio

Wong Chi Fai is Executive Sous Chef - Chinese Cuisine at The Langham, Hong Kong. He joined he hotel in 2000.

Chef Chi Fai has had more than 20 years experience cooking traditional Cantonese cuisine, one of the Eight Great Cuisines of China.

One of the hallmarks of Cantonese cuisine is a commitment to fresh ingredients and enhancing rather than masking natural flavours.

"In order to master the art of cooking Cantonese food, passion is a must," Chef Chi Fai says.

"Equally important is to have a firm understanding of the ingredients to see which technique works best to bring out the best flavour and texture."

An award-winning chef, Chef Chi Fai is credited with making "a tremendous contribution" to T'ang Court's three Michelin star rating.

T'ang Court is one of only four Chinese restaurants in the world that can make this claim. 

Where

T'ang Court, The Langham Place, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.Telephone: (852) 2132-7898.

Check guest reviews and hotel room rates at your favourite hotel booking site:

TripAdvisor - Hotels.com

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