Preparation / Directions:
Had a house guest last week--an old friend who likes my Chinese cooking, but tends to prefer the tamer stuff--you know, things without tentacles or feet. So I whipped up a batch of this excellent, quick and easy sweet and sour pork. It's a long time favorite that I haven't cooked for a some time. Been too busy with Thai and Vietnamese food to make it. It was just as excellent as I remember it being and I actually improved on it with a couple of substitutions.
I used 1/2 cup palm sugar instead of 1/2 cup brown sugar. Palm sugar has a rich, complex and addicting taste while being a little less cloyingly sweet than regular sugars. It gives a taste that's "exotic" without being obvious. Where the recipe calls for 3/4 cup pineapple juice I used 3/4 cup of the juice from some brandied peaches I made. I made 'em months ago and froze the leftover juice specifically to use in a sweet and sour dish. (This is a good thing to do with any sweet fruity type juice.) I left out the maraschino cherries-and substituted a red bell pepper for the color contrast. The only thing even faintly exotic in the recipe is the canned lichees (also a good juice to save for sweet and sour stuff) and that can be omitted if you can't find them--or use canned apricots or whatever instead. You could also use longans or rambutans, which are close relatives of lichee, quite successfully.
PREPARATION: Drain fruits, prepare sauce mixture. Marinate pork in meat marinade for 1/2 hour.
COOKING: Deep fry pork cubes in a wok for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Drain. Pour all the oil back into the bottle. Add sauce mixture into wok and stir until thickened. Add green pepper and onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add pork cubes and stir until heated through. Add fruits and stir until they're coated with the sauce.
DO-AHEAD NOTES: Cook through making the sauce. Just before serving, add pork, vegetables and fruit according to directions.
From "The Chinese Village Cookbook." A practical guide to Cantonese country cooking. Rhoda Yee, Yerba Buena Press, San Francisco.