You’ll Never Believe it’s Paleo – Sweet and Sour Pork
“You’ll never believe it’s paleo sweet and sour pork” began when I was reading Fuschia Dunlop’s book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-and-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, and she mentioned Cantonese cooking. It reminded me of Mediterranean cooking in that the ingredients are the star and do not feature complicated sauces or culinary techniques. It’s probably why most Americans’ introduction to Chinese cooking are dishes like sweet and sour pork or moo goo gai pan.
This made me wonder about cookbooks featuring Cantonese cuisine. Turns out, there aren’t many. But I did find a wonderful book by Kian Lam Kho called Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking. In it is a recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork that’s not only the best of what I remember of my own first forays into Chinese cooking, but it’s paleo friendly, too! With only a few minor modifications, I was able to make a delicious, fun and nutritious meal with crispy pork, juicy pineapple and fresh crispy bell peppers and oh! that yummy sauce!!
I was visiting the Cape last week and enjoying a lovely time with my parents, sister and sweet bunny, Allison. We went shopping for fabric pieces for my photos, cooked lots of nice things for my folks’ freezer and I asked her for a suggestion for a side dish. She immediately came up with cucumber noodles in the style of cold Chinese noodles in peanut sauce. I used crunchy almond butter in place of the peanuts and it was so good!
I can’t believe it’s Labor Day already! I know there are lots of happy/sad people enjoying the last of summer vacation and beautiful Cape Cod weather. Ten weeks go by so quickly! There are new tunes and best wishes for a great weekend. Enjoy!!
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tbs sake or Chinese rice wine
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 3/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1 large green bell pepper peeled (if desired) and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper peeled (if desired) and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion sliced thinly from pole to pol
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tbs rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 3 tbs sake or Chinese rice wine
- 2 tsp tapioca starch
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
In a large mixing bowl, mix together egg white, sake or Chinese rice wine, salt and white pepper. Add pork and mix thoroughly.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix chicken stock, tomato paste, honey, rice vinegar onion powder and crushed red pepper (if using). Taste for seasoning, increasing honey or vinegar to your taste. Add 2 tsp tapioca starch and whisk together.
Place a colander in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 of the coated pork pieces. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the tapioca starch and toss, making sure the pieces are coated and excess starch is shaken off. Remove to another bowl. Repeat with remaining pork pieces, using starch from the bowl underneath the colander as needed.
Heat coconut oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Drop one pork piece into the oil to test. Oil should rapidly bubble around the meat otherwise it will be greasy. Add pork pieces to saucepan so there is plenty of space between them. Cook for approximately 2 minutes or until golden brown. Using tongs or slotted spoon, turn over remaining pieces and cook until second side is golden brown, approximately 2 more minutes. Remove cooked pork to paper-towel lined plate and cook remaining pork in batches, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain bubbles.
In a 12-inch skillet, over medium high heat, add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil from saucepan used to cook pork. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent but not brown. Add red and green pepper pieces and pineapple. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Whisk sauce ingredients to recombine. Add to skillet with vegetables. Toss and cook until sauce thickens and is shiny. Add pork pieces and cook about 3 minutes or until pork is heated through. Serve immediately.
- 1 English cucumber spiralized or cut into julienne strips
- 3 tbs crunchy almond butter
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce or to taste
- 1 tbs coconut aminos or tamari
- white pepper to taste
- 1 tbs sesame seeds
In a salad bowl, mix together dressing ingredients. Add cucumber and mix gently. Taste for seasoning and adjust to desired sweetness, saltiness, and heat.