In Chinese cooking, sweet and sour sauce is used in two ways – as a sauce in the actual food preparation, or as a dipping sauce for the prepared food, with certain flavors of sauce being associated with particular meats.
Chili and soy are particularly associated with prawns or shrimp, traditionally mixed with a sweet ingredient like sugar or honey, with the sour flavor being provided by rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, or cloves. Tomato paste is rarely used in heritage dishes, being an addition that’s normally restricted to Western versions.
S & S sauces are sometimes used on raw ingredients like fruit and vegetables as well, for a dish that’s served cold.
Heat a large, heavy griddle over a high heat, and lay the pineapple slices on top for 3 or 4 minutes until charred. Turn ever minute or so, then remove to a cutting board and cool.
Add the sliced peppers to the griddle for 3 or 4 minutes, just until soft and char marked. Turn once halfway through cooking.
Add the chunks of onion to the griddle for 3 or 4 minutes, cooking until they begin to lose their opaqueness and are char marked. Turn once halfway through cooking.
In a food blender, mix the garlic and chilies with a pinch of salt just to make a coarse paste. Add the ginger, then mix until combined.
In a large bowl, mix the chilli paste with 1 teaspoon oil. Add the prawns and stir in to coat well.
Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add the oil and prawns and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink.
While the prawns are cooking, chop the cooled pineapple into bite-sized chunks.
In a small bowl, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and a tablespoon of water. Add to the wok with the chargrilled pineapple, peppers, onion and peas. Bring everything just to a boil, then simmer lightly over a low heat for another 2 minutes or so, until thickened and reduced a bit.
Sprinkle with the cilantro and squeeze the lime over the top, and then serve.
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.