Craving Chinese food? Toss those takeout menus aside and make this clean and healthy version of the sweet and sour pork. All it takes is a little bit of prep, a quick marinade, and about 13 minutes of cooking — which means it’ll probably be on your table faster than you can get to the restaurant and back! The recipe also works for Sweet and Sour Chicken if you make it using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
To transform this beloved dish into a version lower in sugar, sodium, and calories (to compare, PF Chang’s Sweet and Sour Pork has 740 calories per entrée and includes 71 grams of sugar and 1540 mg of sodium). Our version, a hearty two cups per serving, has 300 calories, 13 grams of sugar, and 322 mg of sodium), we replaced battered and fried pork with succulent cubes of lean pork loin and marinated them in a combination of soy sauce and fresh ginger. To make the classic sauce, we combined pineapple juice, honey, rice vinegar, and tomato paste. The result was a rich, sweet and sour umami delight.
To give more texture and flavor to the dish, we tossed in juicy chunks of pineapple and a trio of different colors of bell peppers then finished the dish with a sprinkling of cilantro. (If you are one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like eating a dish soap, you can skip it, or replace it with parsley.)
We prefer the flavor and firmer texture of fresh pineapple, but you can use canned pineapple. Buy the pineapple canned in pineapple juice so you can reserve the juice for the sauce. Just know that canned pineapple does tend to be a bit sweeter, so you might want to reduce the honey in the sauce to just one teaspoon.
When we shot the video below, we could tell that the film crew was skeptical. How could sweet and sour pork that was healthy <em>possibly</em> taste good? But the intoxicating aroma of the marinade won them over and it was easy to convince them to give our clean and lean version a taste test. They loved it.
We think you will too. Watch the video below to see how it’s made. What other recipes would you like to see healthy versions of? Let us know in the comments!
Sweet and Sour Pork
Total Time: 58 min.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 13 min.
Yield: 4 servings, about 2 cups each
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided use
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp. dry sherry wine (optional)
4 tsp. cornstarch (preferably GMO-free), divided use
1 lb. raw lean boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. unsweetened pineapple juice
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. tomato paste, no sugar added
1½ tsp. raw honey
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil, divided use
1 medium onion, cut in half, sliced vertically
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch wide strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into ½-inch wide strips
1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into ½-inch wide strips
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple (or canned pineapple in juice)
Fresh cilantro sprigs (for garnish; optional)
1. Combine 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, ginger, sherry (if desired), and 2 tsp. cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl; whisk to blend. Place in a large resealable bag.
2. Add pork; marinate, refrigerated, for 30 minutes.
3. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, pineapple juice, vinegar, tomato paste, honey, and remaining 2 tsp. cornstarch in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in large nonstick skillet (or wok) over medium-high heat.
5. Add pork; cook undisturbed for 1½ minutes. Cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute, or until pork is browned but not cooked all the way through. Remove pork from pan. (Note: This may need to be done in 2 or more batches, so that all of the pork has contact with the pan and is seared.) Discard any leftover marinade.
6. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet; heat over medium-high heat.
7. Add onion and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
8. Add pork; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
9. Add pineapple juice mixture; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and pork is cooked through.
10. Add pineapple; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
11. Divide between four serving plates. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
12. Serve each portion with ½ cup cooked brown rice, if desired.