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Sweet and sour pork

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Sweet and sour pork

For other uses, see Sweet and Sour (disambiguation).

Template:Chinese Sweet and sour is a generic term that encompasses many styles of sauce, cuisine and cooking methods. It has long been popular in North America and Europe, where it is stereotypically considered a component of standard Chinese cuisine. It does in fact originate from China, and is now also used in some American (also American Chinese) and European cuisines.


Chinese cuisine

Some authors say that the original sweet and sour came from the Chinese province of Hunan,[1] but the sauce in this area is a weak vinegar and sugar mixture not resembling what most people, including the Chinese, would call sweet and sour. Many places in China use a sweet and sour sauce as a dipping sauce for fish and meat, rather than in cooking as is commonly found in westernized Chinese cuisine.[2]

This style of using sauces is popular amongst Chinese who tie certain sauces to particular meats such as chili and soy for shrimp and vinegar and garlic for goose. There are, however, some dishes, such as the Cantonese sweet and sour pork or Loong har kow (sweet and sour lobster balls), in which the meat is cooked and a sauce added to the wok before serving.[3]

Not all dishes are cooked; some, such as "sweet and sour fruit and vegetable" salad from the eastern regions of China, also find their way in Chinese cuisine.[4] This dish combines salad vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and onion with a mixture of pineapple (or pear), vinegar, and sugar to make a cold served dish.

In China traditionally the sauces are made from mixing sugar or honey with a sour liquid such as rice vinegar, soy sauce, and spices such as ginger and cloves. Sometimes a paste made from tomatoes is used but this is rare and normally restricted to western cooking.[5]

Cantonese sweet and sour sauce is the direct ancestor of sauce of the same name in the West, and originally developed for sweet and sour pork. The late renowned chef from Hong Kong, Leung King, included the following as his sweet and sour source sauce recipe: white rice vinegar, salt, Chinese brown candy, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and dark soy sauce. Hong Kong's gourmet Willie Mak, himself a long time friend of Leung, suggests contemporary eateries not to resort to cheap bulk manufactured versions of vinegar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, or the sauce will risk being too sharp in taste and breaking the balance of flavours. He suggests the more acidic white rice vinegar could be replaced with apple cider vinegar, and ketchup and Worcestershire sauce should be of renowned gourmet brands.[6]

Variations

Guo Bao Rou

Guō Bāo Ròu (simplified Chinese: 锅包肉; traditional Chinese: 鍋包肉; pinyin: guōbāoròu) is a classic dish from North East (Dongbei) China, originating in the Heilongjiang Province. It consists of a bite-sized pieces of pork in potato starch batter, deep-fried until crispy. They are then lightly coated in a variation of a sweet and sour sauce, made from freshly prepared syrup, rice vinegar and flavoured with ginger and garlic. The battering absorbs the sauce and softens. A Beijing variant has the sauce thin and watery, while the dish as prepared in the North East is often a thicker sauce with some ketchup added to it. However both versions are characterized by an intense ginger and garlic flavour.

Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish

From Jiangsu province, the Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish (Chinese: ; pinyin: Sōngshǔ guì yú) has a crisp skin but soft centre. The fish body is scored such that it fans out when cooked, similar in appearance to a bushy squirrel tail. The fish is served with a sweet and sour sauce drizzled on top and garnished with a little shrimp meat and dried bamboo shoots.[7]

Sweet and Sour Yellow River Carp

A speciality of Shandong province, in particular the city of Jinan,[8] the Yellow River Carp is prepaired by making diagonal slices partway through its flesh. It is next coated in corn four then deep fried causing the fish to curl and the slices open out. Finally a sweet and sour sauce it poured over the cooked fish. This is one of the distinctive dishes typical of Lu Cuisine.

Hong Kong/Cantonese

The Cantonese original is made with vinegar, preserved plums and hawthorn candy for a nearly scarlet colour and sweet-sour taste.[9] A related Hong Kong/Cantonese-based dish is sweet and sour spare-ribs (Chinese:生炒排骨 English translation: stir-fried spare ribs) and it is identical in methods except spare-ribs are used in place of pork loins.

Western cuisine

Western cultures use sweet and sour sauce in two different ways. Dishes can either include the sauce as an ingredient in cooking or use the sauce as a pour-over or dipping sauce for the meal.

Chinese restaurants in Western countries commonly serve chicken, pork, or shrimp that has been battered and deep-fried, then served with a sweet and sour sauce poured over the meat. It is also common to find the sweet and sour sauce cooked with sliced green peppers, onions and pineapple before it is poured over the meat.

Many western dishes involve cooking the meat with a variety of ingredients to make a complete sweet and sour dish in the manner of the Gu lo yuk. The most popular dishes are those of pork and shrimp. In French cuisine, it has been developed contrary to traditional French cooking practices and preparation of sweet and sour sauce (Aigre-douce) often involves immersing the food in a plentiful amount of sauce.[10]

Common in Western sweet and sour sauce is the addition of fruits such as pineapple and vegetables such as sweet pepper and green onions. Traditional rice vinegar is becoming more readily available due to the increase in Asian food stores but a mixture of vinegar and dry sherry is often still used in sweet and sour dishes. Also common is the use of corn starch as thickener for the sauce and tomato ketchup to give a stronger red colour to the dish and to add a Western taste. Most supermarkets across Europe and America carry a range of prepared sweet and sour sauces either for adding to a stir-fry or for use as a dipping sauce.

Primarily in North America, sweet and sour sauce is available in small plastic packets or containers at Chinese take-out establishments for use as a dipping sauce.

A number of variations are used in barbecue cuisine, either home-made or prepared from a number of common brands.

Besides American Chinese restaurants, popular fast food restaurants such as McDonald's,[11] Burger King, and Wendy's carry their own brand of sweet and sour sauce packets.

Variations

Sweet and sour chicken

Sweet and sour chicken is an entrée frequently served in Chinese restaurants in various Western countries. It is common in Australia, Europe, and North America, and is available at some restaurants in East and Southeast Asia in an essentially identical version. The dish generally comprises cubes of white meat chicken deep-fried in batter and served with sweet and sour sauce. Sometimes it is topped with pineapple, green pepper, carrot, or sweet pickles.

Sweet and sour shrimp

Sweet and sour pork

Sweet and sour pork is a Chinese dish that is particularly popular in westernised Cantonese cuisine and may be found all over the world. Several provinces in China produce various dishes that claim to be the ancestor including a traditional Jiangsu dish called Pork in a sugar and vinegar sauce (糖醋里脊; pinyin: táng cù lǐjǐ).

The dish consists of deep fried pork in bite sized pieces, and subsequently stir-fried in a more customized version of sweet and sour sauce made of sugar, ketchup, white vinegar, and soy sauce, and additional ingredients including pineapple, green pepper (capsicum), and onion. In more elaborate preparations, the dish's tartness is controlled by requiring that Chinese white rice vinegar be used sparingly and using ketchups with less vinegary tastes, while some restaurants use unripe kiwifruits and HP sauce in place of vinegar. Some of the more casual food outlets use diluted acetic acid as a substitute for white vinegar and synthesized red colouring in place of ketchup to keep the costs down, making the dish too pungent and leaving customers thirsty.[12]

See also

Food portal

References

External links

  • General sauce recipes
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