Archive for November, 2012

postheadericon Sweet and Sour Pork

After several days of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup and turkey ala king, I decided to treat my family to something different…something sweet, sour and delicious.  This is my mother Leeann’s famous Sweet and Sour Pork recipe.  Tender pieces of pork are coated in a delicate batter, flash fried and then tossed in tangy, sweet and flavorful glaze.  Combined with tomatoes, pineapple and bell pepper, this recipe will win raves from kids of all ages in your family.

Sweet and Sour Pork


  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, but into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 can (8 oz) pineapple chunks, drained


  1. Mix the egg, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and the white pepper in a medium bowl. Add the pork and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Cut each tomato into 8 wedges. Cut bell pepper into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Heat vegetable oil (1.5 inches) in a wok or deep skillet to 350 degrees. Mix flour, 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon salt and the baking soda in a medium bowl. Stir pork pieces into batter until well coated. Fry about 15 pieces at a time for 4 minutes or until light brown, turning frequently; drain on paper towels. Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees. Fry pork all at one time 1 minute or until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Place pork on a heated platter.
  4. Heat sugar, broth, vinegar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and the garlic to boiling in a sauce pan. Mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; stir into the sauce. Cook and stir about 20 seconds or until thickened. Stir in tomatoes, bell pepper and pineapple. Heat to boiling and pour over pork. Serve immediately.

postheadericon Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups

I decided to repost this yummy appetizer after realizing that many of you may not only be hosting Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving Eve for out of town relatives.  I’m in the same boat with 30 of my in-laws descending in from all over the country starting tonight!  This is a perfect starter as your guests can help themselves while milling around and catching up on cousin Kate’s recent marathon and niece Sarah’s last performance.  Filled with sweet, bright, salty and spicy flavors from the fresh lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce and Thai chilies, this recipe is super easy and will win raves from your whole clan!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups


  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 fresh hot red or green pepper, preferably Thai, deseeded and finely sliced
  • Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced galangal or fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 fresh red or green chili, preferably Thai, finely sliced (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup canned chopped water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large butter lettuce leaves


  1. Make the sauce: Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cool slightly. Mix ¼ cup of the syrup with the ginger, lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce and chili in a small bowl. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Discard remaining syrup.
  2. Make the filling: Heat oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Add galangal, garlic and chili; stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground chicken and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add cilantro, green onion, lemongrass, fish sauce, crushed red pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dish out and transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. Serve chicken mixture with lettuce leaves and ginger lime dipping sauce, allowing guests to form their own wraps.

postheadericon Roasted Beet Salad with Apple and Goat Cheese


The twins picked some gorgeous red and yellow beets recently on a pre-school field trip.   When my awesome sous chef Stacy Mears saw them peeking out of a bag on my kitchen counter the other day, she jumped for joy as she just LOVES beets.  I sent her home with the beets and asked her to go wild.

Here’s Stacy on her adventures with beets….On a recent trip to visit family in Kansas City, I had the pleasure of dining at Lidia Bastianich’s restaurant across from historic Union Station. After a wonderful meal of house-made mozzarella and freshly made pasta, I decided to buy a copy of the owner’s latest cookbook, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes.  I couldn’t wait to try a recipe from the book. So, when Katie offered some of her freshly harvested red and yellow beets, I knew I had to try the Roasted Beet and Beet Greens Salad with Apple and Goat Cheese.  Not only was this a visually beautiful dish, but it was also delicious and easy to make — I can’t wait to include this salad on my Thanksgiving Day menu!  Please enjoy this adapted recipe from Lidia’s book.

Roasted Beet Salad with Apple and Goat Cheese


  • Serves 6
  • 10 to 12 small yellow and red beets with greens attached (about 3 pounds total)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium tart, crisp apple ( such as Granny Smith)
  • 4 ounces or so slightly aged goat cheese
  • Hand full of candies walnuts (optional)


  1. Prepare the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice the greens off, leaving a tiny bit of stem on the top of the beets, then scrub the beets and poke each of them with a fork a few times. Put them all in a shallow baking dish, uncovered, with 1 1/8 inch of water covering the bottom. Roast the beets - the water will actually steam them a bit at first - until they are shriveled, dark and carmelized outside, and tender all the way through (when poked with a knife) - 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size. Let them cool completely.
  3. Rinse the beet greens well, trimming off the tough parts of the stems, and cut the softer stem pieces from the leaves. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, then drop in the stems and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the greens. Coo for 10-15 minutes more, or until the stems are quite soft. Drain in a sieve, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the hot greens, and let them cool. Peel the cooled beets, removing all the skin, the stem base, and the root tip, exposing the gleaming flesh. Cut the greens (both leaves and stems) into 2-inch lengths, and toss with the beet wedges.
  4. Whisk together the oil and vinegar, with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and some grinds of pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the beets, and toss to combine. Core and slice the apple into thin matchsticks. Arrange the dressed beets on a serving platter or portion them on salad plates and fold in the apple pieces and candied walnuts. Crumble with goat cheese on top just before serving.

postheadericon Asian Chimichurri Chicken Breasts

I joined my four year-old twins Dylan and Becca on a pre-school field trip to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, CA last week.   Not only did they get to scale bales of haystacks, they learned all about seasonal veggies and harvesting.  The coolest part was taking a wagon trip out to the fields where all the mom, dads and kids got to pick beets, fennel, lettuce and cilantro.

I promised some of the parents and teachers (the amazing Linda, Lynn, Aviva and Karen!) from our class that I’d post a recipe using one of the fruits of our labor — cilantro.  I love this Asian twist on a traditional chimichurri sauce.  It’s so easy to make and it’s loaded with fresh and bright flavors.  This is an incredibly versatile sauce you can brush onto grilled shrimp, steak, pork and is also a fantastic dip served with wonton chips.  Omit the Srircha if cooking for small children.

Succulent Chicken Breasts in an Asian Chimichurri Sauce

Succulent Chicken Breasts in an Asian Chimichurri Sauce

Asian Chimichurri Chicken Breasts


  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Srircha sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast filets
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil


  1. Place the first 9 ingredients in a food processor. Puree until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. Add half of the chicken to the pan. Pan-fry 4 minutes per side or until cooked. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.
  3. Spread sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

postheadericon Vietnamese Mix & Match Noodles


The inaugural What Chefs Eat event to celebrate Charles Phan’s new cookbook Vietnamese Home Cooking was a huge success.  The event took place at the stunning Sub Zero showroom in Burlingame, California.  I was so honored to moderate the live interview with Charles.  We all learned that Charles favorite go to meal after a long day is fried rice and that he loves bourbon.  In fact, he is opening up a fried chicken and bourbon joint in the near future.  He is absolutely charming and humble.  I felt like we had so many things in common from having mothers that began their careers as seamstresses to assimilating in America while striving to pay homage to our Asian heritage especially in the kitchen.   After the interview we were all treated to Charles’ amazing food and signature cocktails from his famed restaurant, The Slanted Door.

Here’s a recipe adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.  It’s Vietnamese home cooking at its finest — you can toss in whatever meat or seafood you like (a great way to make another meal out of the shrimp you grilled the night before) and same goes for the veggies.  I used chicken breast and celery for this recipe.  Like many Vietnamese dishes, it is super easy and cooks quickly.  Just remember not to soak the rice noodles too long or they’ll become rubbery.  I like to serve this mix and match noodle dish with some lime slices and Sriricha on the side.

Vietnamese Mix & Match Noodles


  • 16 ounces rice vermicelli or dried thin flat rice noodles (about 1/8 -inch)
  • 2 teaspoons + 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces chicken breast, bavette or flank steak, or boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3- by 1/2 - by 1/4-inch slices
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. If using vermicelli, add them to the pot and boil until just cooked but still firm, about 3 minutes. If using dried flat rice noodles, add them to the pot and boil until just cooked but still firm, 5-6 minutes. Do not overcook, because the noodles will finish cooking in the pan. If you have fresh-dried rice noodles, simply soak them in warm water until slightly softened.
  2. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water if you've boiled them, and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet; toss with 1 teaspoon of canola oil.
  3. Combine the meat, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil in a bowl. Mix well; let stand 10 minutes. You can also toss the meat with just the oil, salt and pepper, if desired.
  4. Heat a wok over high heat; the metal will have a matte appearance and a drop or two of water flicked onto its surface should evaporate on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil; when hot, add the meat mixture; stir-fry until just cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, rinse the wok, wipe clean and return it to high heat.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the wok. Add the beaten eggs, smearing them all over the bottom of the wok to coat it; this helps prevent the noodles from sticking. When the egg is no longer wet, but has not yet begun to brown, add the noodles, bean sprouts, celery, any other desired vegetable and remaining fish and soy sauces. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, lifting and tossing the ingredients so they are well incorporated.
  6. Add the meat and continue stir-frying, tossing with the noodles, until all ingredients are well combined. Transfer to a warm platter and serve.

Welcome to The Sweet
and Sour Chronicles!

Hi! I’m Katie Chin, an Asian food expert, cookbook author, tv host and food blogger. I'm also a mom, so I know what it takes to get dinner on the table in a busy household. I specialize in everyday Asian recipes for real people on real schedules and real budgets. more

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