The city of Palembang on the island of Sumatra is famous for its seafood dishes, and this pindang salmon (salmon in spicy and sour soup) is one such dish. In Palembang, the fish most commonly used to make this soup is ikan patin (swai), but I use salmon since this is much easier to find in the United States. If you want, you can use catfish too, but I prefer salmon to catfish 🙂
To make this soup, you will need fish of your choice (salmon or catfish, or swai if you can find it), tomatoes, pineapple, limes, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, bird eye chilies, Thai basil leaves, and scallions. Just going through the ingredients, one can image the soup to be very fresh, with sourness from tomatoes and limes, sweetness from pineapples, and spiciness from bird eye chilies. The soup looks and tastes amazing, and I think a soup like this is just the perfect thing to ward off winter chill.
Today I have another great okara recipe for those who make their own soy milk at home, okara pork meatballs with sweet and sour sauce. Okara is the soy bean pulp leftover from making soy milk. Though very high in nutrients, okara is sadly considered a waste. And that is just too sad, isn’t it? So, let’s not throw away those soy bean pulp the next time you make some soy milk.
To prepare the meatball mixture, mix together okara, ground pork, scallion, corn starch, and egg. Then season with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sake, and ground pepper. Since the water content of each okara batch will be slightly different, add only as much corn starch as needed to easily shape the meatballs. I use about 2 tablespoon of mixture per meatball, and I also dust each meatball with some corn starch.
To cook the meatballs, you can choose to either pan fry or deep fry. I choose the panfrying option since it means I end up using only one frying pan for both cooking the meatballs and the sauce to make my life easier.
Finally, it is time to prepare the sauce. In the same frying pan, add some oil and fry garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add chicken stock, tomato ketchup, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, sugar, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the sauce boils. Give it a quick test to see if you need to add salt, then thicken the sauce with corn starch slurry. Once the sauce is thick, return the meatballs into the pan to coat with sauce. I like to serve the meatballs immediately with some toasted scallions and nanami togarashi (or toasted sesame seeds).
Want a recipe for an easy spicy sweet and sour fried chicken? There are a million ways to prepare sweet and sour sauce, but I think I have found a super-easy way if your home is regularly stocked with Thai sweet chili sauce, tomato ketchup, and soy sauce. The sauce comes together in minutes, and if you want an even faster dish, use thinly sliced chicken strips instead of fried chicken strips. 🙂
How do I prepare the fried chicken strips?
I won’t dispute that you can make this dish with thinly sliced chicken, but trust me, make the bite-size fried chicken strips. They are not difficult, and are good enough to eat on their own!
The fried chicken strips will need:
600 gram chicken strips, from chicken breast/thigh
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
First, marinate the chicken strips with bruised garlic cloves, lime juice, and salt for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the batter, and you will need:
100 gram all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon tapioca starch, or cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Coat the chicken with all the batter mix. Then heat enough oil in a pot for deep frying. And once the oil is hot, fry the chicken strips until golden brown.
Next, we’ll make the easy sweet and sour sauce to go with the fried chicken strips.
What goes into this spicy sweet and sour sauce?
This easy spicy sweet and sour sauce needs only simple ingredients.
For the aromatics:
3 cloves garlic, minced
50 gram shallots, thinly sliced
For the vegetables:
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 fresh pineapple, bite sizes
For the sauce, I come up with this super easy combination from:
1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper, as needed.
Different brands of sauces have different salt levels, so be sure to taste first before adding more salt and pepper.
And finally, to get that thick luscious sauce and garnish, we will need:
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water, to make cornstarch slurry
Given how diverse Chinese cuisines are among its different regions, it is not a surprise that there are so many variations of sweet and sour pork and they are all equally delicious.
The one I am most familiar with is, of course, the Cantonese version with slices of pineapples, bell pepper, and onion, which I have covered in my sweet and sour chicken recipe.
Today I am going to share the recipe for Peking sweet & sour pork chops, which I think may turn out to be an easier version for most since it doesn’t require as many fresh ingredients other than pork chops of course 🙂
What do I need to prepare Peking style sweet and sour pork chops?
Like I mentioned earlier, the only fresh ingredients you will need is 900 gram (2 lbs.) of thinly sliced pork chops, preferably cut to a mere 2 cm (1/16″) thick.
This dish requires a two-step process, the first step is to deep fry the marinated pork chops, and the steps are as follow:
1. Marinate pork chops.
Mix together pork chops with light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and Chinese five-spice powder. Set aside to marinate for 2 hours, preferably overnight.
2. Add deep-frying batter.
Return the pork chops to room temperature, then mix together all the batter ingredients and add this to the marinated pork and mix well.
3. Deep fry marinated pork.
Prepare a pot of oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot (190 Celsius/375 Fahrenheit), deep fry the pork slices in batches. It should take about 3 minutes per batch. Set aside deep-fried pork over a wire rack to remove excess oil.
Second step: Prepare the sweet and sour sauce for the deep-fried pork chops
Once we fry the pork chops, the next step is to prepare the sweet and sour sauce following these steps:
1. Mix the sauce.
Mix together tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, black vinegar, hoisin sauce, honey, sesame oil, and water.
2. Cook the sweet and sour sauce.
Heat oil in a wok over medium heat and swirl to coat. Pour the sauce mix (from step 1) and bring it to a boil. Then thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry made from a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.
3. Coat deep-fried pork chops.
Once the sauce is thick, return the deep-fried pork chops into the wok. Gently toss to coat the pork.
4. Garnish and serve.
Transfer the coated pork chops to a serving platter, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Other Chinese pork recipes to try
If you love this Peking sweet and sour pork chops, you may want to try these Chinese pork recipes too:
In China, there are two versions of sweet and sour pork, the southern style and the northern style. Since most of the Chinese overseas originated from the southern part of China, the one we are more familiar with is the southern/Cantonese style of sweet and sour pork.
Many posts ago, I shared a sweet and sour chicken recipe which is based on southern/Cantonese sweet and sour pork, so you can use that recipe and switch chicken with pork and make Cantonese style sweet and sour pork.
Today, I am going to share the northern style of sweet and sour pork, which is actually simpler and more straight forward to prepare, but is decidedly less colorful without all the pineapples and bell peppers which are commonly present in the southern style.
What do I need to prepare northern style Chinese sweet and sour pork?
For this dish, you will need:
900 gram (2 lbs.) pork bellies, you can also use pork ribs too if you wish
And these two ingredients to marinate the pork:
1 tablespoon light soy sauce, feel free to sub with regular soy sauce if that’s what you have
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, you can also use Japanese sake or dry sherry, and if possible, use drinking grade as oppose to cooking grade
For the aromatics, you will need:
2 inch ginger, thinly sliced
4 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
For the sweet and sour sauce, northern Chinese style, you will need:
You will also need:
2 tablespoon sugar, to caramelize and to give that glossy coating
sesame seeds, for garnish
the green part of the 4 scallions, thinly sliced, also for garnish
How do I cook northern style Chinese sweet and sour pork?
The steps to prepare and cook this lovely sweet and sour pork dish is as follow:
1. Marinate the pork.
Mix together pork bellies with light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. Set aside for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
2. Fry the aromatics.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium heat, fry ginger and white part of scallions until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set this aside.
3. Sear the pork.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, turn the heat to medium-high, and sear the marinated pork until all the surface is golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
4. Caramelize sugar.
Clean the wok, then add 1 tablespoon of oil and the sugar, heat on medium-low until the sugar has melted and slightly caramelized (the color is light brown), then add the seared pork and gently toss to coat. Turn off the heat.
5. Cook with sauce until tender.
Return the fried ginger and scallion, along with the sauce (dark soy sauce, black vinegar, Shaoxing wine, and water). Mix well, then turn the heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the wok, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.
6. Thicken the sauce.
Remove the cover, there should be some liquid left. Turn the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking until the sauce thickens and coats the meat with a high gloss finish.
7. Garnish and serve.
Transfer the finished dish to a serving platter. Garnish with sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
How do I serve sweet and sour pork?
The most common way is to serve this with steamed white rice, but you can also thinly slice the cooked meat, and use as noodles/ramen topping, or use the thinly sliced meat as steamed buns (mantou) filling with some fresh lettuce leaves. Basically, make a Chinese style sandwich. 🙂
These are delicious whichever way you choose to serve them. If you are planning to serve this for a party, feel free to double or triple the recipe. Simply follow the same cooking guide even for a double/triple/quadruple batch. 🙂
Other sweet and sour dishes for you to try
If you love sweet and sour dishes like this, you may want to try these recipes too:
Everyone loves sweet and sour chicken, especially children. In Indonesia, this dish is called ayam kuluyuk, or ayam asam manis. You can actually make a sweet and sour chicken without the bell pepper and pineapple since the sauce contributes the most to the taste of this dish, but I really love seeing vegetables, fruits, and meats all in one dish.
Recently, I went to a Chinese restaurant here that use fresh strawberries instead of pineapples, it looks so lovely and the taste is surprisingly good. So, if you live in a place where strawberries are plentiful and much easier to get instead of a pineapple, I highly recommend using those.
How to prepare deep-fried chicken?
First, mix together 450 gram (1 lb.) skinless boneless chicken thigh/breast, cut into bite-size pieces, with 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, let’s prepare deep-frying batter by mixing together 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 4 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 cup water.
Finally, deep-fry the chicken. Heat a pot of oil, and once the oil is hot (about 170 Celsius / 340 Fahrenheit), dip chicken pieces in the batter, and deep-fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Set aside over a wire rack to remove excess oil.
What goes into the sweet and sour sauce?
For the sweet and sour sauce, mix together the following:
3 tablespoon tomato ketchup
3 tablespoon chili sauce. You can use sambal oelek, sriracha, or your favorite Asian bottled chili sauce.
3 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon plum sauce. You can also use apricot jam or marmalade.
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
You will also need:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper (~ 150 gram / 5 oz.), cut into 1″ squares. Feel free to use green, orange, or yellow bell pepper.
1 small pineapple (~ 150 gram / 5 oz.), cut into bite-size pieces
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch sections
How to cook sweet and sour chicken
Once you have deep-fried the chicken, and mix together the sauce, this sweet and sour chicken dish comes together in minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok/frying pan. Sauté garlic until fragrant, then add green bell pepper and pineapple and stir fry until fragrant.
Pour the sweet and sour sauce into the pan, stir to mix well, and bring to a boil.
Return the fried chicken along with chopped scallions into the pan, toss gently so the sauce fully coats all the chicken pieces.
Turn off heat, transfer to a serving plate, and serve immediately.
This chicken and lychee in a sweet and sour sauce is one of my Mom’s staple dish to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Since the CNY (Chinese New Year) celebration lasts for 15 long days, and some families will gather for a big feast on the 15th day of CNY, I thought I would squeeze in one more dish appropriate for this occasion 🙂
This dish is extremely easy to prepare, and super fast too, especially since the chicken is cut into bite-size pieces. I actually like making this dish throughout the year and not just for Chinese New Year, and it is a great way to finish off those cans of lychee if you are lucky enough to be gifted this.
Exchanging gifts is part of the custom during CNY, and sometimes one can end up with many canned fruits or fresh fruits. So, usually during CNY, dishes with fruits will naturally crop up to take advantage of all those fruits. ♥
What’s in this chicken and lychee dish
There are several components that make up this lovely dish: marinated chicken thigh, sweet and sour sauce, and the rest of the ingredients.
1. Marinated chicken thigh
We will need chicken thigh meat, cornstarch, salt, and grated ginger.
Cut the chicken thigh meat into bite-size pieces, then mix with cornstarch, salt, and grated ginger. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
2. Sweet and sour sauce with lychee juice
Unlike other typical sweet and sour sauce, this version incorporates lychee syrup from canned lychee. We will need tomato ketchup, lychee syrup, plum sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, ground white pepper, and drinking water.
If you don’t have plum sauce, you can substitute with the same amount of apricot preserves or orange marmalade.
Simply mix everything together. You can even adjust the taste of the sauce at this stage, adding more salt, sugar, or ground pepper as you wish.
3. The rest of the ingredients
For aromatics, we will be using onion, garlic, and red chilies. You can use red bell pepper for a children-friendly dish, though if you use mild chilies like Fresno chilies, the dish shouldn’t be too spicy.
Also, we will be needing lychee fruit drained from the canned lychee.
To thicken the sauce, we will be using a mixture of cornstarch and water.
For garnish, I simply use thinly sliced scallions.
How to cook this chicken and lychee dish
Once all the prep work is done, the cooking portion is actually very quick, so be sure to have everything ready before you start cooking.
First, heat oil in a wok over medium-high and sauté onion, garlic, and red chilies (or bell pepper) until onion is wilted and slightly translucent. About 3-4 minutes.
Next, add marinated chicken thigh and stir until no longer pink. About 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the sweet and sour sauce and bring to a boil. Adjust the amount of salt, sugar, or ground pepper as needed.
Add in lychee fruit and mix, then thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch + water).
Turn off the heat, transfer to a serving plate, and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.
Other sweet and sour dishes to try
My family is a big fan of sweet and sour dishes, and over time, I have accumulated quite a bit of sweet and sour recipes. If you are the same, you may want to try my other sweet and sour dishes too.