Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweet Sour Secret

For some reason when most Americans think of Chinese food, they would relate to Sweet and Sour pork or chicken, the bright red shinny sauce with pineapple… That’s not what real sweet sour sauce is.  Then there was also the “urban myth” that a good sweet sour sauce is made with tomato and special honey. (The owner of a Chinese restaurant in St Paul MN once told a friend of mine). The base of the sauce is actually quite simple: Ketchup, sugar and vinegar, oh any vinegar, you don’t need special Chinese or Japanese rice vinegar.

My 2 very dear childhood friends have been asking me for my mother’s sweet sour sauce recipe. We have known each other since we were 3 or 4 years old. We went to the same school and our mothers are friends. We ate at each other’s house quite often growing up. They love my mother’s cooking and of course they know her sauce!

My mother does not cooking according to any measurement. (This is one of the reasons she does not like to bake shh…. I spilled the beans). Her standard measurement is a bowl, any rice bowl she can get her hands on. She showed me the sauce a few years back when she visited me. I missed her Singaporean Chili Crab. Her sweet sour sauce is the base for a few of her dishes including the famous Singaporean Chili Crab. One of the “secret” of her sauce is the additional of plum sauce. Well I made plum sauce today. I have to make this today for my 2 best friends, Gigi and May.

This is my modified version. I am going to use the sauce for my Sweet Sour Chicken. This is not the standard Chinese version. The main difference is, I am going to pan-fried the chicken and top it with the sauce vs. dredge the bite size chicken pieces in egg white and corn starch and deep fried.
I am also using the beautiful heirloom tomatoes and sweet pepper from my Week 9 CSA.

 Sweet Sour Sauce
½ cup Apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
1/8-1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
½ lemon – seeds removed
1/4 cup ketchup
2 full tbsp plum sauce
Dash of salt
Combine vinegar, water and a dash of salt in a non-corrosive pan.
 Squeeze lemon juice into the vinegar mix
Add the rest of the lemon to the liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to med low and let it cook for about 15 mins.
Remove the lemon. 
 Add honey 
Dissolve sugar
Add Ketchup 
Add plum sauce,
Bring to a boil and lower heat back to low and let it cook for 5 mins.
 Store in a jar and use within a week, or you can freeze the sauce.
 Make about a cup.

Quick note:  Response from a reader, the sauce is a little sweet.
There are a few things you need to consider and it is very important to keep tasting. We are using a few bottle products here. There is quite a bit of sugar in ketchup and each brand is different. Also when you use a commercial plum sauce, the taste will vary a bit. I should strong recommend tasting the sauce while you are making this. You may want to start with 1/8 cups of sugar and add more as needed.

Oct. 15, 2011
I further modified the recipe. I am preparing for a cooking class and I am out of my own plum sauce. I have to use the store bought Chinese plum sauce. It is too sweet. Just in case you are interested: I am using a product from Koom Chun sauce factory. It's a product from Hong Kong, readily availabe in most Asian store. 

Made-over Sweet and Sour Chicken 
4 pieces of chicken filet, you can use thigh of breast.
2 med tomatoes – I am using ½ a large tomato and a small one here. Clean, cut into ½” pieces.
½ an sweet onion, cut into ½” pieces
1 sweet pepper, clean, remove seeds and cut into ½” pieces.
1 tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp grated ginger
1/3 cup of Sweet sour sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil
Season boneless chicken pieces with salt and pepper
Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
Pan friend the chicken pieces. Brown both side and let it cook in med low heat for about 15-20 mins till cooked. Remove Chicken and keep warm
Return the same pan to the med high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger.
 Sauté onion till caramelized
 Add green pepper, sauté for a few mins.
 Fold in tomatoes, and cook for a couple of mins to reduce some of the liquid.
Add Sweet sour sauce.
 Bring to a boil and let it cook for a 2-3 mins till everything is combined and the sauce thickened.
Arrange chicken in a serving plate. Spoon the sauce with vegetable on top.
Serve with rice.

Serve 2.


1 comment:

  1. This looks so yummy and easy! Can't wait to try it. I love Sweet & Sour.