Recipe: Thai Sweet & Sour Pork (Pad Piao Wan)
When travelling, I always try to see if I can get into a local cooking class. It’s a great (and fun!) way to learn about the local culture and people. On a recent trip to Phuket, Thailand, my fiancé and I took a private lesson from a pleasant lady named Eing, who hosts cooking classes in her backyard outdoor kitchen. She incorporated many of the herbs and vegetables that she grew in her garden into our dishes.
While we often associate Thai food with curries, mango and sticky rice and — of course — pad Thai, I was surprised to learn how much Chinese influence there is in Thai food and culture! One of the dishes we learned that day was the Thai version of sweet and sour pork – Pad Piao Wan. While it’s very similar to the Chinese version, the Thai version really bumps up the vegetables (the highlight for me was the fresh baby corn!) and has just a tiny hint of spice.
What You’ll Need
- 600-800 g (1.3-1.8 lb) pork loin, flattened with a mallet and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 egg whites, about ¼ cup (60 mL)
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chicken bouillon powder
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) tempura flour, available at Asian supermarkets, or substitute with 2 Tbsp flour mixed with ½ tsp baking soda
- 3 cups (750 mL) panko, or bread crumbs
- 2 cups (500 mL) canola oil, for frying
- 4 baby corn, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 English cucumber, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 cups (500 mL) pineapple chunks, preferably fresh
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups (500 mL) water
- ½ cup (125 mL) ketchup
- ½ cup (125 mL) oyster sauce
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 4 stalks celery, sliced on diagonal
- 2 tsp (10 mL) brown sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, stir together pork, egg whites, chicken bouillon powder and tempura flour. Add panko and toss until pork is well-coated. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or a heavy pot until bubbles form around an wooden chopstick inserted into the oil. Deep-fry the pork, in batches, until golden brown. Remove from wok and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel.
Drain all but 3 Tbsp of oil from the wok. Add baby corn, onion, bell pepper, cucumber and carrot and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add tomato and pineapple and continue to sauté. Once the tomatoes have softened, add water, ketchup, oyster sauce, green onions, celery and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer until the sauce slightly thickens. Stir in cooked pork until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.