Given the recent flurry of activity on my Basic Chinese Sauces page, I thought I’d also post my recipe for Chinese restaurant-style sweet and sour sauce. Again, I’m sure any self-respecting Chinese cook would scoff at this, but it is similar to the kind of sauce you find at American Chinese restaurants. Only not quite so eye-popplingly red.
Chinese Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
- 1 small can pineapple chunks or tidbits, including the juice
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/4 to 1/3 c. vinegar
- 1 Tbl. ketchup*
- 1 Tbl. cornstarch
- You may want a little more sugar or honey, or less vinegar, depending on the sweetness of your pineapple juice and your personal preference
1) Cook any meat first. Remove it from the pan.
2) Stir-fry your veggies. If you like, drain the pineapple juice into a measuring cup and throw the fruit into the stir-fry now.
3) Mix up all the sauce ingredients in a measuring cup.
4) Add a few pieces of hot veggies to the measuring cup to pre-heat the cornstarch.
5) Dump all the sauce into the pan with the veggies (and add the meat back, if using) and bring to a boil.
6) Simmer for a minute or two until the sauce is clear and thickened.
I made this with a young adult cooking class, and one amazed young man exclaimed, “Hey! This tastes like sweet and sour sauce!” When I asked why that was such a surprise, he said, “I dunno…I just thought with all that weird stuff in it, it would taste, y’know, gross.”
* Before you get all weirded out about this, think about what ketchup is: Tomato paste, sugar, water, and vinegar. You could use tomato paste instead, but you need so little – just for some color – it’s much easier just to give it a squirt of ketchup.