Sweet and Sour Pork in Batter

I am at home this week.  ‘Home’ is where I grew up – Lisburn, in Northern Ireland.  I am cooking in my parents’ kitchen, snuggling up with Jonathan on a sofa that’s seen a few other boyfriends and Jessica is sleeping in my bedroom and playing with my toys.

A few nights ago I met up with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen for (ahem!) twenty one years.  Inevitably our conversation came round to how things have changed since we left home.  More houses, fewer independent shops, better roads.

We also reminisced about life as teenagers in Lisburn in the ’80s.  Money was tight, eating out was something we only did occasionally on holiday, and there was no such thing as too much blue eyeshadow.  I hadn’t yet experienced the flavours of Indian, Mexican or Japanese food.  As far as I was concerned the height of sophistication was sweet and sour pork balls from the chinese takeaway.  Thick soft batter covered with a sticky artificial coloured sauce – my 15 year old self loved it.

My trip down memory lane inspired last night’s dinner.  This batter is lighter and the sauce is a more comfortable colour but the ’80s tang is still there, and it’s definitely sticky.  Did I dance round the kitchen to Whitney Houston and Bryan Adams?  That would be telling!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Sweet and Sour Pork in Batter
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 400-500g cubed pork
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 120g/4oz plain flour
  • 60g/2oz cornflour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • water
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 can pineapple (see below)
  • 30g/1oz/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 120g/4oz light brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 120ml/4floz cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 90ml/3floz/6tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 90ml/3floz/6tbsp reserved pineapple juice
  1. Combine the plain flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Slowly add enough water to make a batter. Set aside while you make the sauce.
  2. Slice or dice the onion and pepper (we usually slice, but this time I diced on auto-pilot) and fry gently until soft. Add the pineapple chunks (keep the juice) and warm through.
  3. Put the remaining sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the sauce thickens - you will need to stir it reasonably regularly. I always expect the cornflour to go lumpy, but it hasn't yet!
  4. When the sauce has thickened, add the onion, pepper and pineapple. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. To make the pork balls, fill a wok or large pan about half to two thirds full with oil and heat until a piece of bread or spoonful of batter sizzles. Dip the pork cubes in the batter and deep fry a few pieces at a time until lightly brown (three to four minutes). Drain and keep warm while you fry the rest.
  6. We serve the pork balls and sauce separately so the batter stays crispy (and I get more sauce - yum!), alternatively pour the sauce over the battered pork.
I find a 400g can of pineapple chunks gives enough juice for the sauce, the right amount of pineapple pieces, and some left over for Jessica to eat the next day

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17 Responses to Sweet and Sour Pork in Batter

  1. Steve Gibbs says:

    Wonderful…had this last week and I’m cooking it again today…the loved it too :-)

  2. Steve Gibbs says:

    Should have said the kids loved it too!

  3. Chrissy Brace says:

    This is a fantastic recipe and I have successfully presented this to my family and friends. I would also suggest you use the batter for Fish and Chips it is so light and doesn’t contradict the flavour of the fish.

  4. My family r coming to dinner at mine, to celebrate Chinese new year, going to use the batter recipe but this time not going to use your sauce, however if the pork balls r good then next time I l try the sauce too. ps. can I use same batter with chicken?
    thanx karen( prob silly questn as ok for fish!)

  5. June wood says:

    My mam is chinese and she never puts cornflour or baking powder in with the batter all it is is plain flour,1egg,bit of water,salt

  6. Matt Hallum says:

    Really impressed with the batter and the sweet and sour is great also. I highly recommend this recipe!

  7. Kim says:

    What a find! Love this recipe, perfect results every time. Sauce recipe makes loads so ended up freezing most of it, which is fab. Also used batter recipe for cod, perfect. Thank you!

  8. Althea says:

    This recipe was gorgeous I marinaded the pork in Soy Sauce for an hour and it tasted better than when I have a takeaway as I find the pork balls bland . The sauce was perfect, 1st time I’ve made it and my family loved it. Thank you!!!!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Great batter recipe only made the pork balls but they were exceptionally good, will certainly use again. I will also try for fish and chicken, this recipe is quick and easy with the added bonus that it works!!! Thank you xx

  10. David BIRKBY says:

    we have tried the recipe fantastic , we all so trying it with fish tonight.

  11. Dave says:

    Excellent stuff! Thank you! Just finished eating it, went down very well with the whole family.

    I used a deep fat fryer, small tip for those that go this route, don’t use the basket, just gently drop in the battered pork and fish out with a suitable utensil. The first batch got stuck to the basket!

  12. Littlemaeve says:

    I have been using a similar recipe for years and found it was well received when passed on but as the sauce covers the horrible veg the kids love it so I always do some stir fried veg such as 1, carrots, broccoli (do not forget the thick stalks can be peeled sliced and fried) peppers & onions fry first as they take longer, mushrooms, cabbage and Chinese lettuce last just to heat through also the left over pineapple can go in to warm through, use any oil. but best with olive or rape seed. If cooking for a gang then do not cook until tender leave them in a warm oven where they will finish off. I also make lots of sauce and

    Egg fried rice. This can be cooked before as it has to go cold and forked before use otherwise it cooks the eggs too fast. When cold beat the eggs and thrown in with some cooked peas …stir and serve

  13. Kath says:

    This is a fantastic recipe – no need to get a take-away any more for this particular dish!

  14. Mark says:

    Excellent recipe – exactly like the takeaways of my youth (although imho needs slightly more salt). I’ve tried a number of times to get the childhood version right but this is basically it. Thank you

  15. Zulie says:

    How much water for batter? I have never made batter before so need a little help. Must it be runny or thick?

    • Nicola says:

      I like a thicker batter for this recipe – like a sour cream/yoghurt thickness – although it’s grand if it’s like double cream as well.

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