Sweet-and-sour pork strips

Sweet-and-sour pork strips

Chinese Unchopped
30 mins
Cooking time
10 mins
Martin Poole

All regions of China, and in fact many cuisines of the world have their own distinct sweet-and-sour combinations. When School of Wok started in 2009, the first thing that anyone wanted to learn was how to make a classic sweet-and-sour chicken. Although I have nothing against a good home-cooked Cantonese-style sweet-and-sour, as time has gone on our customers have moved on to develop an interest in what an ‘authentic sweet-and-sour’ might taste like. This dish – essentially the sweet-and-sour flavour that Sichuan is famous for – has also made its mark across the world, alongside the Cantonese sweet-and-sour chicken ball, of course.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 red onion
100g bamboo shoots
3 tablespoons pickled cabbage or pickled pak choi
1 spring onion
3 garlic cloves
a thumb-size piece ginger
60g cloud ear fungus, soaked and drained, (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns
300g pork shoulder steak or loin
2 teaspoons chilli bean paste
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

The marinade

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornflour

The sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1-2 teaspoons chiu chow chilli oil
1 tablespoon chinkiang black rice vinegar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce


  1. Finely slice the onion, bamboo shoots, pickled cabbage and spring onion. Finely chop the garlic and slice the ginger into matchsticks. Shred the drained cloud ear fungus (if not already shredded) and lightly crush the Sichuan peppercorns.
  2. Bash the pork well with the side of the cleaver, and then half-mince it using a rocking motion (this will not only help tenderise the meat, but it will also help to get all the marinade and sauce ingredients to soak into the meat itself). Slice the meat into thin strips, put it in a bowl and cover with the marinade ingredients, massaging them into the meat well with your hands.
  3. Mix the sauce ingredients together well in a small bowl or ramekin.
  4. BUILD YOUR WOK CLOCK: place your sliced onion at 12 o’clock, then arrange the bamboo shoots, pork bowl, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, chilli paste, shredded fungus, pickled vegetables, sauce bowl and spring onion clockwise around your plate.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over a high heat until smoking-hot.
  6. Add the onion and bamboo shoots and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the pork slices and stir-fry, keeping the heat high, for a further minute until golden brown.
  7. Add the ginger, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns and chilli paste and stir-fry for a further 30 seconds, then add the shredded fungus and pickled vegetables and stir-fry for a further 1 minute. Pour over the sauce, bring to a vigorous boil and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened and reduced to a coating consistency.
  8. Transfer to a serving plate or bowl and scatter over the spring onion slices to finish. Serve.


  • To rehydrate dried mushrooms, cover them in 300ml hot water and leave to soak for at least 1 hour (preferably overnight). Drain them before using, reserving the soaking water for use in your recipe, if necessary.


  • Chinkiang black rice vinegar has a unique savoury-sweet aroma that comes from the fermented husks of black rice. If you cannot find it, try mixing together 3 tablespoons of thin balsamic vinegar with 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and a teaspoon of sugar instead.
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