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Cantonese-Style Sweet and Sour Pork

Cantonese-Style Sweet and Sour Pork 2.000

Photo Jennifer Heffner for The Washington Post; styling Nicola Justine Davis for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Nov 1, 2022

In “The Complete Chinese Takeout Cookbook,” Kwoklyn Wan explains that the sweet-and-sour sauce that originated in the Chinese province of Hunan was a “light vinegar and sugar mixture with very little resemblance to the bright orange dish served in many restaurants today.” Wan’s recipe calls for a handful of pineapple chunks. We used about a cup, but you can adjust to your taste. If you plan to serve the dish with rice, put the pot of rice on the stove before you begin making the pork, and both should be ready at about the same time.

Total time: 30 mins

Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

2 - 4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-4 servings

  • For the sauce
  • 1 cup orange juice (from about 4 oranges)
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) pineapple chunks, fresh or canned, preferably in juice, drained
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (3 ounces), seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small onion (2 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • For the pork
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 10 to 12 ounces pork loin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Cooked rice, for serving (see NOTE)


Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the juice, pineapple, bell pepper, onion, vinegar, sugar, tomato paste and ketchup, until well combined and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small measuring cup, whisk together the water and cornstarch until combined. Slowly add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce, a little at a time, stirring continuously, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cover and remove from the heat.

Make the pork: Line a plate with a towel and place it near the stove.

Pour enough oil into a large saucepan for the pork nuggets to float and heat over medium-high heat until the oil registers 340 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil by dropping in a small bit of cornstarch; if it immediately sizzles, the oil is ready.)

While the oil preheats, set out two shallow bowls. In one, whisk together the egg and salt; in the other, add the cornstarch. Add the pork to the egg and toss until each piece is well coated. Then, add the pork to the bowl of cornstarch, tossing until well coated.

When the oil is ready, use a slotted spoon to lower the pork into the oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. (The internal temperature should be 170 degrees.) Remove the pork and drain on the prepared plate.

Arrange the pork on a serving platter, spoon the sauce over it and serve with the rice on the side.

NOTE: The amount of uncooked rice you’ll need to yield about 2 cups of cooked rice will vary depending on the variety of rice you choose. For long-grain white rice, rinse 2/3 cup of rice until the water runs clear. Then, place it in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and stir to coat the rice. Add 1 1/3 cups of water, a pinch of salt, if desired, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “The Complete Chinese Takeout Cookbook” by Kwoklyn Wan (Hardie Grant, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1 1/3 cups pork), based on 4: 446

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 12g 18%

Saturated Fat: 3g 15%

Cholesterol: 93mg 31%

Sodium: 254mg 11%

Total Carbohydrates: 62g 21%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 16g

Protein: 21g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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