- Brianna Rhodes, RD, CD
Sweet & Sour Pork
Crisp pork with crunchy vegetables topped with a delicious sweet and tangy sauce. You will love this take on the classic Sweet & Sour meal.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good sweet and sour recipe? When I made this one, my husband said, “I think this is your best meal yet. Really.” But to be perfectly honest, what really makes it a “good” sweet and sour meal is the crispy battered meat. It’s hard to get that without frying, which means this type of meal is not typically on the healthy spectrum. I’ve made it before with just sautéed chicken, and it’s just not as good.
This recipe uses a combination of frying and baking to get the best of both worlds. It is a little bit time intensive, but the end result is definitely worth it. Also, by keeping the meat, sauce and veggies separate, you can actually get really good left-overs the next day too!
My kids are still leery of strong vinegar/sour flavors, so I served this to them minus the sauce. They LOVED it. My 6-year-old excitedly declared “This is the best meat ever!” It’s always fun to get such praise for a meal.
A few notes on making this recipe. I chose to use pork loin, primarily because I cook with chicken A LOT, and I wanted to do something a little different. However, you could easily substitute chicken in this recipe without any issue. The secret to the crisp meat is to cut it in small pieces (about 1 inch squares), then toss it in cornstarch. I do this in a Ziploc bag, so it’s real easy to shake it up and coat every piece. Step 2 is to dip the cornstarch coated pieces in the egg. That creates the “batter” that will crisp up. Be sure you do the cornstarch first, and the egg second.
I did lightly fry the meat—about 20 seconds per side. This browns the batter, but doesn’t cook the pork through. The nice thing here is you don’t get that over-saturation with oil when you bite into your pork at meal time. Then I spread it out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake it for about 20 minutes. While it’s baking, I have time to put together the sauce, sautéed veggies and rice.
A lot of recipes tell you to bake the meat in the sauce. I say keep it separate for several reasons:
It allows you to have leftovers the next day without having soggy meat. Just broil the meat for 2-3 minutes the next day, and it is hot and crisp just like the first day!
It allows you to get the meal out a bit faster. I got the meat in the oven, and had time to finish up everything else while it baked. For me, it simplified things.
This makes it easy for young kid meals. No need to remember to save some plain meat for the kids.
The other thing I did to beef up the nutritional value of this meal is to serve it with a generous amount of veggies—peppers, asparagus, onion. You could do others too, but those went very nicely with this meal. Also, I served it over brown rice. It was surprisingly well received!
4 oz portion of pork
3 Tbsp sweet and sour sauce
½ cup brown rice
1 cup of sautéed veggies
¼ cup pineapple
Recipe Used in this meal:
Sweet & Sour Pork
Serving size: 4 oz pork
1 ½ lbs Pork Loin
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the pork loin into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Put the pork into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat.
Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until very hot and rippling. Dip the cornstarch-coated pork pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet.
Cook for 20-30 seconds on each side until the crust is golden but the pork is not all the way cooked through. Place the pork pieces in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Mix the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic salt together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
In a small cup, mix cornstarch and water, stir till well combined. Pour into sweet and sour sauce stirring constantly until thickened.
Serve pork over brown rice with vegetables and pineapple. Top with sweet and sour sauce.
Sautéed Peppers, Onions & Asparagus
Serving size: 3/4 cup
1 large Red peppers
1 large green peppers
1 large onions
1/2 lb Asparagus
1. Wash the peppers, onions and asparagus well. Chop into bite-size pieces.
2. Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Turn on to medium high heat, and allow to heat up.
3. Add chopped veggies and sauté until soft, but still crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Asparagus should be bright green.
4. Serve with sweet and sour pork.
Nutrition Facts Label for the Entire Meal:
Nutrition Facts Label for Pork and Sauce:
Nutrition Facts Label for Sauteed Vegetables: