Move over Sweet and Sour – Sweet Spicy Pork is the new favourite!
My boys love sweet and sour pork. Not a lovely home made one – oh no. Don’t get me started on the time I spent a whole afternoon replicating a Kylie Kwong sweet and sour pork, carefully coating the pork fillet, deep frying it to a crisp crunch and lovingly cutting up fresh pineapple for the sauce. By the time I had finished there was not a clean pot or plate in the house, and when I placed the meal triumphantly in front of my loving family, pushing my limp hair from my brow with a weary hand, I was told quite emphatically that they preferred the local take away version. You know the one – with the neon coloured sauce that resembles no fruit or vegetable ever created by nature. So how happy was I to stumble across this recipe. Pork – tick. Sweet – tick. Delicious- tick. Time consuming and in neon colours – not so much! This Sweet Spicy Pork is brown. Very brown. So initially not so appealing when I found the recipe here, but I had purchased some pork scotch fillet and was looking for a way of stretching five steaks to feed six (anyone with boys knows that an unexpected and late announcement of an extra person for dinner is fairly usual) and this dinner did not disappoint. Juicy pork in a sweet and gently spiced sauce, perfect with some steamed rice and greens. And the huge bonus? It all gets chopped and tossed in the one pot for cooking. No browning, sautéing, or million step recipe. Just all in the pot, put on the stove and then pour yourself a little something to relax and enjoy. Those of you who work and have boys to feed are going to LOVE this Sweet Spicy Pork. I have made some changes to the original recipe (I know right? Can’t help myself) but if you want to stick with the original, that’s okay.
Start with your pork. Lovely pork scotch fillet stays moist and tasty during the cooking. Often a little more expensive to purchase, but please don’t substitute for anything with less fat – the pork will dry out and the dish will not be as special. (Little tip – if you are friends with a Costco member, they sell this cut quite reasonably, so worth the cut lunch trip out there!)
Cut the steak into cubes about 3 cm in size and just chuck it in the pot. I told you this was going to be easy! Then to the rest of the recipe:
Don’t be put off by the amount of ingredients listed. Most will be things you have in your pantry if you cook Asian inspired dishes; if not, they are all very versatile and I am sure you will find uses for them. I have made this as a gluten free meal for my friend Helen – took me some time to source GF oyster sauce (come on supermarkets – how hard can it be??) and I substituted the Kecap Manis for extra GF soy sauce and honey. I prefer dark brown sugar, but you could use brown or palm sugar if that is what you have. Don’t have any cinnamon sticks in your pantry? (I use them a lot so this happens to me a lot!) Just pop in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon instead. So halve and thickly slice the onions, slice up the garlic, pop in the spices, sugar and sauces and we are ready to cook.
Stir over a medium heat, bring to the boil, pop on a lid, reduce to a low simmer and let it bubble away. Did someone say bubbles? Yes, it might now be time for a little something with your feet up while your dinner cooks itself. Hopefully you have trained a young person to cook rice for you so you can do this uninterrupted, but if you are a woman reading this, we all know that you can sip on some wine AND cook rice AND chop vegetables. After thirty minutes, remove the lid, give another quick stir and let it bubble away uncovered for a further 10 minutes until sauce is starting to thicken. Now is the time to put your vegetables on to steam and I like to mix up some cornflour with a little water to thicken the sauce at the end and add a nice gloss.
I know, I know, that does not look very attractive but if you could smell this! The last time I cooked this Mr L came in asking what was for dinner, lifted the lid and took a deep breath and after a long “Mmmmmm” stated that he LOVED this dish, thanks Mum. Who can go past pre-dinner thanks?? It improves on the plate with some rice and a sprinkle of coriander:
- 1 kg scotch fillet steaks, cut into 3 cm chunks
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 red onions, halved and sliced
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup kecap manis
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbs oyster sauce
- 3 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Place all the ingredients in a large pot over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid, cooking for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and simmer a further 10 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken slightly.
- Serve over steamed jasmine rice with some steamed green vegetables
The sauce can be thickened with 2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbs water - this will also add a nice gloss to the dish