I have cooked this once or twice before but I’ve had mixed results.
This time it is pretty damn good.
I used pork mince because, well, that’s what I had to hand! I was going to make meatballs but I wanted something quicker. Anyway, it proves that you can make ingredients work.
I cooked it earlier, maybe 5 o’clock, and ate half of it then. I quickly reheated it now and threw in a few more veg.
The recipe for the sauce is based on Ken Hom’s version in his Complete Chinese cookbook, which is why I feel bad if I copy out the exact quantities of it, haha. I don’t really use them anyway!
The gist of it is chicken stock, tomato purée (or ketchup, but that’s got extra vinegar which you need to account for), soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar.
I also added dashes of lemon and lime juice, which makes it a little bit more fruity, to your taste.
Now, I’m not one for really following recipes to the letter, I prefer to experiment to see what each flavour does.
However this recipe has guidelines that, when followed, produces a sweet and sour sauce that is more sour than sweet. This is good – this makes a clear difference between this and the stuff you get down at the takeaway.
Obviously you can play with proportions and get a sweeter sauce if that’s what you want, but the general amounts are to dissolve the stock cube in water and add a good couple of spoons of purée – this is the backbone of the sauce – with a dash of dark and maybe 4 times as much light soy sauce. A similar amount of rice vinegar in there too. Bear in mind that soy sauce and vinegar are quite salty!
Sugar to taste, maybe a tablespoon or maybe more.
The way I made it the sauce was lovely and thick, but if it’s runny, you can always whip up some cold water and arrowroot or cornflower and stir that in. Beware for lumps – that’s why you don’t toss the flour in dry.
I want to add that onions in oriental food are nice very crunchy, and as such you slip them in close to the end.