Sweet and sour sauce serves as secret to stir-fry success

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Photo by: panlasangpinoy.com.

I hate when people claim that it is pretty much impossible to mess up stir-fry when, in fact, it totally is. So many times my stir-fry dishes have ended up tasting too either salty, too bland, overcooked or not cooked enough. I’ve tried it all: ginger, garlic, onion, chili flakes and somehow, I just can’t seem to find the perfect combination on my own.

Moreover, there is something about knowing when to put in each component down to the second that consistently stresses me out. By the time I am ready to add something to the pan, my spinach is basically all shriveled up and dry and I am forced to start all over again.

The frustration caused by this unending battle with stir-frying usually has me skip over the stir-fry station at school or just order take out for when I am at home and hungry.

Although, I will admit that my ongoing battle with making my own stir-fry is truly a shame since it is simultaneously one of my favorite dishes. When I am lucky enough to find myself in front of a well-made stir fry-dish, its proximity to perfection usually comes down to the variety of ingredients used in it.

Call me crazy, but when done right, the combination of vegetables, fruit and protein all mixed in with sweet and sour Asian flavor is simply irresistible.

This brings me to my very own version of stir-fry for dummies, a recipe that I question whether or not it was made specifically for me: stir-fried pork and pineapple.

Not only does this recipe fulfill the requirement with diverse components and suffice as a fulfilling dish, but it is also debatably easier to master than mess up—a motto that I tend to live by in the culinary world.

The recipe requires some preparation.

Start by prepping the protein which, if you’re not a fan of pork, can also be substituted with chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu. Cut the meat into slices that are two inches long and one inch wide so that each piece can relatively cook for an equal amount of time.

Following this procedure, prepare the stir-fry sauce. The sauce is comprised of rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and salt, which will all be mixed together. After mixing the ingredients of the sauce into the bowl, add in the pork along with cornstarch and vegetable oil.

While you wait for the meat to marinade, take the extra time to organize your stir-fry essentials. Begin by cleaning a ripe eggplant and cutting the vegetable into eight to 12 pieces of approximately 1 inch width.

Next, dice up three scallions (include the green tops) and cut up one cup of pineapple into 3/4 inch chunks. Lastly, set aside vegetable oil, fresh ginger and chili for the stir-fry.

Now that it’s finally time to start cooking, place your wok or frying pan on high heat. The pan usually takes about one minute to heat up, but you can double check by pouring in some water and testing if it steams. If it does, you’re ready to go. If the water merely bubbles, give it some more time.

After confirming that the pan is hot enough, add in the vegetable oil and simultaneously shift the pan around to ensure the oil gets an even spread on the bottom as you pour it in. If you don’t get the even spread the ingredients aren’t going to cook thoroughly.

Start by adding the ginger and pork together and stir-fry them together until the meat appears to be lightly brown. This noticeable change takes about two minutes and is followed by adding in the pineapple, eggplant, sauce, scallions and chili.

Once all the ingredients are in the pan, stir-fry them together for about three to five minutes, or until the pineapple is well heated up (be sure to avoid burning the fruit). As with all stir-fry, make sure that you get the various ingredients well-mixed together for the best taste.

After gradually reducing the heat, take the mixture from the pan. After you put it in a bowl and let it cool to your desired temperature, put it out on the table, where you can top it off with fresh cilantro, and enjoy.

The Recipe

PROTEIN: Pork Meat

8 oz of boneless pork

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch


2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt


8 pieces eggplant

3 scallions

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons thinly slivered fresh ginger

8 ounces fresh pineapple (approx. 1 cup)

5 to 8 thin rings fresh chili

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