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Sweet and sour sauce


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I absolutely love the sweet & sour flavor. I like it always. In Chinese food, in German food, wherever I encounter it.

It's gotten a bad rep (of course) because of that dayglo orange glop that bad "American Chinese" restaurants pour over everything.

That stuff is horrible.

But good sweet & sour, with crunchy green peppers, onions, pineapple, etc. I love it. And Hot & Sour Soup. And German potato salad. And red cabbage.

Can't even have a PB&J sandwich without a sour pickle on the side.

It's one of my favorite flavors.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

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I am quite torn on this.

The reason being, while I know that "Sweet and Sour Chicken" represents everything that is wrong with Chinese cuisine in america today, and how its one of those lunch special takeout dishes thats really given Cantonese regional cooking a bad rap...

I like the dish. God I love it. When its done well, the crispy battered chicken nuggets, if flash fried to perfection and not too greasy, countered with a tangy-sweet and very vinegary dipping sauce, that is of the proper consistency just to coat the nuggets and not create a cloyingly sweet sticky mess, can be a great dish. Even though I know that its a complete bastardization of the original chinese banquet dish, I love it.

When its bad though, oh boy is it bad. Cloyingly sweet, overly gloppy conistency, nuggets drenched in grease. Bad. very bad.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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I like the dish. God I love it. When its done well, the crispy battered chicken nuggets, if flash fried to perfection and not too greasy, countered with a tangy-sweet and very vinegary dipping sauce, that is of the proper consistency just to coat the nuggets and not create a cloyingly sweet sticky mess, can be a great dish. .

God, I love it too. Sweet and sour pork even more. Don't give a care if it isn't "authentic."

I even love it when it's badly done. :smile:

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Has anybody noticed that on the East Coast the sweet-and-sour dishes are orange whereas on the West Coast they're red? Or is that just a trick of the light?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Love sweet and sour. I always feel guilty admitting it when I have Chinese food with friends since (as others have said) it has such a bad reputation as junk food.

The best I ever had was a very long time ago at a restaurant that used to be in Portland called Rickshaw Charlie's. The dish was just called "Pineapple Duck", but the elaborate preparation actually consisted of roasted duck, shredded and mixed with water chestnut flour, pressed overnight, then cut into cubes, deep fried and served with a sweet and sour fresh pineapple sauce. I can still vividly remember the texture and flavor and I've never seen anything remotely similar to it on any menu.

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Rickshaw Charlie's

They just don't name restaurants like they used to. I mean, if you go to a restaurant named Rickshaw Charlie's, everything is just automatically going to taste better. Memo to Jean-Georges Vongerichten: forget "66," go with Rickshaw Georges. Incidentally, my parents almost named me Rick but figured out the problem at the last minute.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Rickshaw Charlie's

They just don't name restaurants like they used to. I mean, if you go to a restaurant named Rickshaw Charlie's, everything is just automatically going to taste better. Memo to Jean-Georges Vongerichten: forget "66," go with Rickshaw Georges. Incidentally, my parents almost named me Rick but figured out the problem at the last minute.

Now I assume the name would be considered racist or offensive. Unlike "Hung Far Low" which is till around, I think. It was actually a fancy, upscale place with booths partially surrounded and canopied by rickshaw-style roofs. And at the end of the meal instead of fortune cookies, they brought out a selection tiny ice cream cones served in a silver holder. I was maybe 10 or 12 years old our one and only time dining there, but it made a huge impression.

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they brought out a selection tiny ice cream cones served in a silver holder

So that's where Thomas Keller got the idea!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I made an "authentic" sweet & sour pork dish (according to the recipe I was using). The pork was deep fried in a very light, thin batter, and the sauce was a pale, almost tea-coloured brown (the "sour" element was Chinkiang vinegar, and the sweet was white sugar). Overall, the flavour, scent and texture of the dish were lighter and more delicate that the sweet & sour I've had from takeaways.

Ed, does that version sound like anything you've run into?

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I think ketchup is commonplace, even in HK

Heh heh - is that why the beloved SSCH in the Chinese restaurant of my youth was tagged "Hong Kong style" on the menu? I always wondered why the owners called it that, as none of them were from Hong Kong. :biggrin:

Edited by Miss J (log)
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I made an "authentic" sweet & sour pork dish (according to the recipe I was using). The pork was deep fried in a very light, thin batter, and the sauce was a pale, almost tea-coloured brown (the "sour" element was Chinkiang vinegar, and the sweet was white sugar). Overall, the flavour, scent and texture of the dish were lighter and more delicate that the sweet & sour I've had from takeaways.

Ed, does that version sound like anything you've run into?

At home, my dad tends to make most of his sweet and sour dishes with Chinkiang vinegar and sugar. He once added apples to the S&S pork dish which added a nice flavour and texture. The only time I've seen him add ketchup was to a S&S pork chop dish. I remember the first time I saw the bright red/orange S&S pork dish served in the restaurant, I was fascinated by the colour and I couldn't believe people actually ate that.

Edited by Degustation (log)
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Has anybody noticed that on the East Coast the sweet-and-sour dishes are orange whereas on the West Coast they're red? Or is that just a trick of the light?

Hmm . . . that's funny. Here in the Midwest they are pink!

Like Jaymes, I enjoy the flavor combination of sweet & sour almost more than any other. And like maggiethecat, I love sweet & sour chicken and pork dishes, although I suppose I've never had a properly prepared one. All of the Chinese restaurants I've eaten at in my town buy their dishes off the back of the same truck, I think (save one lone exception). But that sure doesn't stop me from making a pig of myself :biggrin:

I would enjoy eating a "true" sweet & sour. I would enjoy even more preparing one at home for my friends. Any tips? Successful recipes?

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I made an "authentic" sweet & sour pork dish (according to the recipe I was using). The pork was deep fried in a very light, thin batter, and the sauce was a pale, almost tea-coloured brown (the "sour" element was Chinkiang vinegar, and the sweet was white sugar). Overall, the flavour, scent and texture of the dish were lighter and more delicate that the sweet & sour I've had from takeaways.

Ed, does that version sound like anything you've run into?

Black Chengkong vinegar and sugar can make a terrific tasting sauce. I sometimes like to use a touch of fresh garlic as well. I find the Worchestershirish flavor of the vinegar adds a really interesting flavor component. I often use black vinegar when I'm making a catsup based sweet and sour sauce.

I feel that most Chinese restaurants don't take enough time preparing Sweet & Sour dishes. One of the things that I especially object to, and find to be quite common, is the pre-cooking of the pork or chicken. Freshly cooked, fried chicken or pork can be wonderful when it's correctly sauced.

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For the fun of it I ordered Sweet and Sour Pork for lunch the last (alas and only) time I was in Hong Kong. It was incredibly good, unlike any version I had in the US, though I haven't ordered it that much here since I put away my childish things.

As I remember it the sauce was much thinner, the vegetables much more crisp, and the over all dish truly sweet and sour as opposed to sweet and sweeter still.

Holly Moore

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Sweet and sour dishes tend to be abused more in the US. The cuisine at Chinese restaurants in the US is not indicative of haute Chinese cuisine, or even "regular" cuisine at Chinese restaurants in Asia.

The utilization of vinegar is interesting, not only as an aspect of the saucing, but also as an additional "added by the diner according to taste" condiment at the table. For example, vinegar is a frequent accompaniment to braised shark's fin soup (along with bean sprouts, a certain type of Chinese ham, etc.) or as an accompaniment to the dim sum item of shark's fin dumpling in soup. :hmmm: Similarly, vinegar can be used in moderate quantities to prepare certain crab dishes in Shanghainese cuisine (which are generally not advisable in the US, due to the need for a certain crab and the need for freshness in that ingredient).

I do not eat sweet and sour items, when I choose the menu. Among other things, I do not believe in artificial coloring and, as mentioned by other members, certain sweet and sour dishes tend to have an awkward color. In general, I do not believe restaurants should use artificial coloring in their dishes.

Edited by cabrales (log)
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Take out sweet and sour chicken or pork is one of my remaining fast food indulgences. I genuinely don't like much fast food any more. But I will eat the most objectionable version of this dish - preferably with French fries - quite happily.

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As a child sweet and sour used to be one of my favorite dishes and although I rarely order it I occasionally get these intense cravings for it (usually when I am pregnant!) Living out of the country only seems to make these cravings worse.

The Japanese have a dish called subuta (sour-pork), which is similar to S&S though I have no idea of the origins. It normally consists of deep fried pork, green peppers, shiitake, carrots and pineapple chunks in a ketchup-vinegar-sugar sauce, this is a homestyle dish I have never seen in a restaurant.

I don't think I have ever eaten S&S in a real Chinese restaurant in Japan, I'll have to look for one on my next visit to Chinatown.

But there is a Japanese chain Chinese restaurant called Bamiyan that serves a S&S pork made with balsamic vinegar (other ingredients are frozen bamboo shoots and dried shiitake) that is one of the best I have ever eaten.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I'm not very keen on sweet and sour. Perhaps it is the unnatural color, or perhaps because often there is way too much breading on it, or it's too greasy, or when the crispy breading sits in the sauce it gets soggy, or it's over sauced, overly sweet, or the pork is too gristly, or that I've never had a really good one. Or maybe a combination of all of those things. I think the worst offender is when it gets soggy sitting in the sauce. I think it is best served w/sauce on the side and then dipped in so one can control the amount of sauce one wants on it, and it stays nice & crispy.

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Has anybody noticed that on the East Coast the sweet-and-sour dishes are orange whereas on the West Coast they're red? Or is that just a trick of the light?

When I was in the South I used to see red glob.

:hmmm:

I don't care too much about sweet & sour pork

but I do like my Mam's sweet & sour fish.

She adds some chinese pickled vegetables and

julienned carrots in her sauce. To die for.

Adding this to my list of "food I want to eat when

I go home" :laugh:

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I think the worst offender is when it gets soggy sitting in the sauce.  I think it is best served w/sauce on the side and then dipped in so one can control the amount of sauce one wants on it, and it stays nice & crispy.

I agree entirely, Heron. That's how I've always asked for anything of this nature and how I always prepare and serve it.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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