Sweet and Sour is all about contrasts, and this recipe has lots of them. The pork has a firm meaty texture, complimented by a crispy coating with herb notes, while the sauce balances sweetness against acid, without the overpowering cloy of commercial sauces which, for me, are always more sweet than sour. It also looks fantastic on the plate, especially if you serve it with some crisp sugar snap peas or some French beans.
Start with the sauce as you want to give it time for the flavours to come together.
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 tsp fresh ginger (grated)
- 1 long red pepper (sliced)
- 150ml white wine vinegar
- 100g demerara (brown) sugar
- 200ml water
- a splash (5-10ml) of soya sauce
- 1 heaped tsp cornflour (to thicken)
- 1 fresh pineapple (cubed)
- A little oil for stir-frying
- A small amount of chilli can be added to give the sauce a little heat (optional)
peel and crush the garlic into a wok or frying pan and let is sizzle in a little oil for a minute or two. Add the peppers after a few moments and cook them until they are just starting to loose their crispness. Add the vinegar and the sugar into the pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Chop the pineapple into cubes – you probably won;t need all of it, but it keeps in the fridge and makes a dice fresh dessert. You can use tinned pineapple but you will lose some of the sharpness and may gain sugar if it’s been kept in syrup – reduce sugar quantity accordingly. Add the pineapple and a splash of soya sauce. The soya is to add a little savoury-saltiness to the sauce. Leave the sauce off the heat while you cook the meat.
Strictly this is fusion cooking as we’re going to cheat to make the pork coating. An ingredient that was in every bistro everywhere at one time is Polenta – a cornmeal which is sold in most supermarkets. It used to be a cheap Italian staple, but it was adopted by TV chefs and then became expensive. It’s more reasonably priced these days.
Cook some plain rice and prepare some green vegetables to be cooked when the pork is almost done.
For the pork:
- 1 pork fillet tenderloin
- 1 egg
- 1 bag of polenta
- 1 tsp each of oregano and thyme
- salt to taste
- cooking oil
Take a plate with a lip and pour out a covering of polenta onto the plate. You can add more later if you need to. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of oregano and of thyme, and a little salt and stir these together. Take the tenderloin of pork and slice it across the grain into round medallions roughly 3mm thick. Heat a pan or wok on the hob with enough oil to immerse the pork medallions, until a piece of bread dropped in bubbles and browns in under 30 seconds. Don’t get the oil so hot that it smokes.
Meanwhile, beat an egg into a bowl. Take each medallion of pork and dip it into the egg to cover it, then coat it thoroughly in the polenta and herb mix. Drop each gently into the hot oil and cook until the polenta starts to brown. Do no more than three pieces at a time – too many and it won’t go crispy. Once they are cooked set them on a warm plate lined with kitchen roll on it to absorb excess oil. It should stay warm while you cook the rest.
Once the pork is cooked it should be crispy and brown. dish it up onto a plate with some rice and vegetables and pour the sauce over the pork just before serving.