Cherry Lau is a full time sculpture student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, with concentrations in Ceramics and Sustainability/Social Practice. She has a passion for food in all kinds and forms but feels most at home with the Paleo philosophy because of its focus on wholesome non-processed meals. Plus, she thinks the Paleo community has some of the most supportive/positive individuals she’s ever encountered. On Studio Snacks, she she shares primarily plant-based recipes from a grain, dairy and sugar-free pantry. She was born in Hong Kong, raised in New York City and currently resides in Baltimore, MD. Connect with Cherry on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I’m so excited to finally share this recipe for Pineapple Sweet and Sour Pork. This is a flavorful main dish that combines two of my favorite things to order at a Chinese restaurant: 咕嚕肉(“goo loh yuk” sweet and sour pork) and 菠蘿炒飯(“boh law chow fan” pineapple-fried rice) These were both dishes that restaurants seemed to be superior at making, whether it was the fact that they were incredibly complex dishes that were served beautifully in such a way that I thought would be daunting to make myself at home, or I thought I had to have a seasoned Chinese restaurant wok to get the exact flavor of these dishes. My dad always tells me about this thing called “wok hei” (鍋氣) which means Wok Essence (ok this sounds really cheesy but stick with me here) and it is defined as the way that Chinese restaurants cooks have their woks seasoned through a lifetime of cooking with it over blazing hot flames and constant usage with a variety of fragrant dishes. This is the same as how Americans treat their cast irons. Many people claim that certain foods like steak or hash cooked on certain lovingly seasoned cast irons will yield a flavor that cannot be obtained using any other kind of pan. That’s what wok essence is. Well, I may not have a seasoned master’s wok, but I decided to take a stab at these dishes anyway, what with the beautiful pineapples in season right now. It looks like a daunting list of ingredients but I assure you it is not. Most of these ingredients should be available in any staple Paleo pantry!
- 1 lb pork belly, skin trimmed off and cut into about 2″ inch pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon 5 spice powder (optional)
Ingredients (Fry Batter):
- 1/2 cup coconut flour (I used my homemade version)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, or lard
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 inch worth of fresh ginger, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 small green bell pepper
- about 1/2 cup chopped pineapple (1″ inch pieces)
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 pineapple boats (directions below)
1. Begin by marinating your pork belly. Add in all of the marinade ingredients, cover with plastic wrap (or marinate this in a container with a lid) and keep in the fridge for at least an hour.
2. Meanwhile, get together the rest of your ingredients. (Ignore the strawberries there, I thought I was going to include strawberries into the presentation of this dish… but it just didn’t go with it so I left them out.)
3. Make your pineapple boats. Split your pineapple lengthwise, and using a sharp paring knife, cut straight down and loosen the flesh in a circular motion. It’s okay if you don’t get it all out in one go (It took me like four times). Here’s the video tutorial I used. Set aside in the fridge, uncovered.
4. Cut your bell pepper and onion into bitesize (but NOT tiny) pieces. Combine all the batter ingredients in a blender and transfer to a small bowl. Take out your marinated pork belly.
5. Pour all of the coconut-egg batter onto the pork belly, and stir to coat each piece.
6. Heat up 1/2 cup coconut oil in a wok. When it is hot, slowly drop half of the pork belly pieces into it. After about a minute or two, check with chopsticks or tongs to see if the bottom is golden brown. If it is, gently flip it over.
7. My two tips here are 1) Keep the overall heat of the oil under 250 F at all times. I use a thermometer to keep this gauged. If it does hit 250, immediately dial your heat to low and let it come back down into a safe 225 F. My next tip is 2) Filter the oil before frying your next batch of pork belly. Just using a fine mesh strainer is fine, this ensures that no tiny pieces remain in the oil to burn and stick to your next batch. Make sure you wipe down your wok before putting this filtered oil back in. Repeat step 6 with the other half of the pork belly.
8. Transfer your pork belly, now with an incredibly fluffy and crispy crust, to a metal rack. Once cool enough to handle, cut each into half (now 1″ inch pieces).
9. To start the sauce, heat up 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in a wok and when hot, toss in the garlic cloves and ginger slices. Toss until fragrant.
10. Next, toss in the onion and green bell pepper and all of the sauce ingredients. Keep everything on high heat and stir in a folding motion. When the sauce is uniform and starts to bubble, put all of the pork belly in. When each pork piece is covered in red, turn off the heat and gently toss in your pineapple.
. . . . .
Won’t ya look at that. Probably one of the proudest moments of life.
Now you can serve it hot out of the wok… But that’s not what we’re here for now, is it?
I also spooned a little bit more of the fresh pineapple (crushed) into some of the nooks to brighten it all up just a bit more.