Sometimes when I feel that my wife is nagging me, I put on my satchel and walk downstairs to the food market in Wan Chai. In this part of Hong Kong, there are many food stands everywhere. This is the beauty of Hong Kong. Some say the mountains, other says the skyscrapers, but without food, Hong Kong would lose its heart. The food stands are like a subculture amongst themselves. Some are licensed to have a stand there, but many of them also do not. In a bad moment, one can be caught up during a raid. During a raid, the local authorities run around and try to capture as many of these illegal food stands as possible. The illegal stand owners will fold their carts and stampede like the bulls of Spain or a tidelwave. I have been caught up on several occasions in the middle of these raids and endured its chaos.
During most times, however, when the food markets are alive with good business, the chef finds his heaven. Row after row, side to side, I find the freshest ingredients, particularly fish fresh from the sea. Even the lowest stand has a higher quality than any American supermarket. The merchants are negotiable and once they are used to me, I am given the biggest and best of their crop for a minimal amount. To the world, I may be Chef Mo, but here, I am King Chef Mo. My kingdom is not made of gold, but of the best ingredients Hong Kong has to offer. Therefore, whenever my wife and I get into some tension, I do not buy the flowers like an ordinary man. I buy ingredients and cook her something from my heart!
So on this particular day, my heart has told me to make her Sweet and Sour Pork. This popular dish is special to us because when we were young, it was our favorite food street dish. Listening to the music of Sam Hui and Paula Tsui, looking at the moonlight, enjoying our Sweet and Sour Pork, taking her home before 8:30pm. At the Wan Chai food market, the butchers reveal their finest meat to me. I negotiate a good deal and they give me their best cuts. And so, like King Chef Mo, tonight you, too, can make Sweet and Sour Pork.
Let us begin.
1. PREPARING THE DECORATIVES
- Bell pepper
- Canned cherries
This will not be applied until step 5, but it is important to prepare the decoratives first. Canned pineapples usually have the pineapples in chunks. Using a knife, chop the bell pepper into pieces. Canned cherries can remain as they are. Be sure to have these decoratives ready for step 5.
2. CREATING THE SPECIAL SAUCE
The secret to the Sweet and Sour Pork dish is the sauce. Otherwise, it is just pork on a dish. Please remember that it is called SWEET and SOUR pork dish. This means that it can not be too sweet or too sour. If you balance the contradiction, you will win over the body, the mind, the soul and most importantly, the heart of your eater.
- Worchestire sauce
- Soy sauce
- Chinese black vinegar
- Corn starch
The sauce is created first by boiling the water with sugar, ketchup, worchestire sauce, soy sauce, black vinegar and a little bit of salt. If you have trouble finding Chinese black vinegar, the Italian Balsamic vinegar will be a good substitute. This is because both have a very, very strong flavor. To make the sauce thick, add corn starch.
3. FRYING THE SAUCE AND VEGETABLES
Once the sauce is created, put the vegetables into the pan. Make sure to chop the onions into a suitable and sharable size, because Sweet and Sour Pork is a sharing dish. Do the same for the onion and cilnatro.
Fry on medium with the vegetables and the sauce together for 3 minutes.
Seperate the vegetables and the sauce into different dishes.
4. FRYING THE PORK RIBS
- Pork ribs
For this step, you will need to already have marianted the pork ribs with egg and some small amount of flour and corn starch.
To do a deep fry, you need a good size wok for your kitchen. Put some cooking oil into the wok and heat for a moment. Once it is hot, it is time for the ribs. To be safe, slowly slide the pork rib one at a time from the side of the wok. Make sure it is the side of the wok, so as not to burn your face. If you put all the ribs in at the same time, the oil temperature will drop down too quickly. Be patient. Achieve harmony.
5. INSERT SAUCE INTO RIBS, ADD DECORATIVES
With the wok, place the sauce and vegetables from Step 3 and the decoratives from Step 1. Stir them together as the fire under the wok does the work. You merely have to do this for about 15 seconds, then immediately pour it into your dish. You are finished. You can smell the goodness of the Sweet and Sour Pork as it nears to perfection.
When I came back with the groceries, my wife was silent, but a slow smile came to her face once she saw my ingredients. Our daughter was off with her boyfriend, so we had the house to ourselves. It is amazing how good food can turn a house of tension into a house of peace. Sweet and Sour Pork is the elixir to our marriage. Because it is especially made from the finest ingredients from the food market below, the Sweet and Sour Pork we ate was especially delicious. Some day, I tell my young male readers, when you and your wife have a bit of a fight, roses are for young ladies. The secret to a woman's heart is not through her eyes, but through her stomach. This is something every master chef knows, but because you are reading this, I pass this good news to you! So enjoy life and live happy! Always solve problems with good cooking!