Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Art of Dinner

There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.
Sun Tzu - the Art of War

A traditional Jiangsu dish called Pork in a sugar and vinegar sauce is considered the ancestor of one of the more popular Chinese dishes that is a staple at any American, Canadian, or British Chinese restaurant. Sweet and Sour Pork can be truly wonderful or an overly sweet mediocrity. You've all had the typical cheap "take out" version - Heavily battered Ping-pong ball-sized pieces of meat with the texture of Kevlar, laced with red food coloring and accompanied by canned pineapple.

For the HOTR version of Sweet and Sour Pork you start with a fine quality pork tenderloin which you marinate first in soy sauce and sweet rice wine. The result is a spoon tender piece of meat. The fruit and vegetables are fresh, not canned, and the sauce is ambrosia. It's not made with the cheapest version of vinegar and ketchup as you find in the typical Americanized versions. Rather it has a little plum sauce (that sweet hot spicy heaven that is mu shu pork) added into some Muir Glen Organic Tomato Ketchup (which has a fresh tomato taste with more of an undertone of cloves and cinnamon, than vinegar like most brands). Then the secret ingredients - oyster sauce, a dash of Worcestershire sauce (gives it a nice surprising depth) and lastly, some transparent rice vinegar.

The batter coats well but is delicate, and the meat remains tender and succulent. I'm not sure how well it keeps because I don't think there have been much in the way of leftovers.

Sun Tzu had it right.

9 comments:

  1. That sounds about right. :-D

    John

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  2. Oh boy another recipe I can try, I love your cooking but can't do most of it due to my delicate palette and aversion to most thing spicy but this looks doable.

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  3. My younger daughter loves you, and loves your recipes. She has placed your recipes above her other cookbooks. We all benefit!

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  4. Rev Paul - give her my best.

    And a hug.
    (been one of those weeks).

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  5. Served with Thai Jasmine rice? The real stuff from an Asian market?

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  6. Thought you would appreciate the humor:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luVjkTEIoJc

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  7. There's some fine, off-the-farm pork down in the freezer. I'll try my hand at it this weekend, although I'll not come close to HOTR ambrosia.

    Have a good weekend, Brigid. May you have ample range ammo and time to burn it.

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  8. I have had my mind and mouth set on having bbq pork for lunch today, then I read your post and all I can think of is some GOOD chinese food. I am too easily led astray.

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