When we eat in Chinese restaurants, we often order dishes that we had enjoyed before. For instance, we love Causeway Seafood Restaurant‘s and King Chef’s dim sum selection but, for me, nothing beats Din Tai Fung‘s steamed dumplings. Speedy and I think that HK Choi‘s pata tim and lechon macau are the best and President Grand Palace‘s roast duck is the most succulent…
In other words, although about seventy percent of the items in Chinese restaurants is the same, some versions are more memorable than others. And that is the obvious truth. There is no singular standard recipe for any dish. There are as many versions as there are cooks.
Take the ubiquitous sweet and sour pork. Why is the sweet and sour pork in Restaurant A better than the dish with the same name in Restaurants B, C and D? Same thing among home cooks. Why is your friend’s mother’s sweet and sour pork more mouth-watering than your mother’s version? Perhaps, the balance between sweet and sour is more pleasant. Perhaps, the pork is juicier and more tender. Perhaps, the crisp starch is thinner so there is more meat than starch.
I’ve been cooking sweet and sour pork for at least two decades, I have made so many versions and yet I keep experimenting. In this version, the kaffir lime leaves were added to the sauce, the pork seasonings included oyster sauce and, as to the usual carrot-pepper-onion combination that accompanies the pork, I added eggplants and used scallions instead of onions. »