Sweet-and-Sour Braised Pork

Japanese Sweet and Sour PorkSweet and sour pork is a popular Chinese preparation. This is a completely Japanese version that is not too sweet, starchy, or greasy. This is not a quick to make recipe: the meat and vegetables are marinated, deep-fried, and finally braised. The frying provides a pleasant crust to preserve the shape and flavor each piece of food in the sauce. Japanese Sweet and Sour PorkThe technique of frying the meat and/or vegetables, then braising in a seasoned sauce is similar to Japanese-style stewed beef. You can make this early in the day (or a day ahead) and it only becomes more delicious.
Japanese Sweet and Sour PorkSweet-and-Sour Braised Pork with Pickled Plums
Buta no Ama-umeni
serves 4
page 439

  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • 1 egg white beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon potato starch

Put the pork into a bowl and rub with salt and pepper. Toss with the sake, then egg white, then potato starch. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  • 1 large Japanese sweet potato, or regular sweet potato
  • 1 medium onion

Cut the sweet potato into 1-inch pieces, rangiri style. Soak it in a bowl of salted water for 20 minutes. Cut the onion into thin wedges. Drain the sweet potatoes and dry with a paper towel.

Rangiri is a cutting technique usually applied to cylindrical vegetables.
Rangiri means “disordered cuts.” Hold the knife diagonally to the vegetable,
and keeping it at a constant angle, make a cut, rotate the vegetable 90°,
make a cut, rotate…
Vegetables cut this way ensure a large even surface area
which facilitates quicker even cooking in simmered dishes.


  • Deep Fry in a Wok1 cup vegetable oil

Heat a wok and add the vegetable oil. Heat to 350°F. Shake the excess marinade off the pork cubes and drop into the oil. Cook the pork cubes in small batches, over medium heat, until all sides are golden.

The meat will drop to the bottom of the oil and seem to stick there. Don’t worry: after a few minutes, you should be able to push the cubes free. I tried to force the first few pieces off the bottom of the wok and they just tore away, but when later batches were just left to cook they released easily. Drain the pork on a rack lined with paper towels and set aside. Cook the sweet potato pieces in the hot oil until golden.

Not being an experienced deep-fry cook, I did these a few at a time using chopsticks to place and remove pieces one by one. This was quite time-consuming and perhaps I was too cautious. Next time I’ll attempt the “advanced technique” of using a wire skimmer to dump a bunch of vegetables into the oil and use it again to remove them all at once.


  • 1/2 cup dashi
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (original recipe calls for 5)
  • 1/2 ounce umeboshi, pitted and mashed
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons shoyu
  • 1 Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)
  • 6 shiso leaves, minced

In a medium pot, add the dashi, sake, and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the pork, onion, and sweet potatoes. Cook over low heat covered with a drop lid for 5 minutes.
Add the pickled plum and shoyu, and cook, covered for 15 minutes, stirring gently several times. Taste and add more sugar, shoyu, or komezu. Serve garnished with shiso and accompanied by plain rice.

Japanese Sweet and Sour Pork

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Stir-Fried Rice with Curry Gingery Japanese Pork

3 thoughts on “Sweet-and-Sour Braised Pork

  1. I am not aware that Japanese also has Sweet and Sour Pork, this is certainly a nice variation. How many types of Pickled Plums are there in Japan. I am thinking of those ones which are pinkish.

  2. The recipe is definitely Chinese influenced.
    Ume are called plums, but they are related to apricots. The trees bloom at the end of winter, before the famous cherry blossoms. I have only found them fresh one time, and they were not in very good condition, which is too bad because they can be used to make plum jelly, juice, and wine. They are apparently very astringent and not good to eat fresh, but I wanted to try making the wine, but Blue Lotus has instructions for making it, and she specifies that the fruit must be perfect. I have seen this wine for sale with plums inside the bottle, but have not yet tried it.
    Umeboshi are the “plums” after they are pickled. I try to buy the ones with the fewest artificial ingredients: some of the very bright pink ones are colored through the wonders of chemistry. The umeboshi I like are colored with red shiso leaves, and the best ones have the leaves and buds visible in the package. There are smaller and larger plums, the bigger ones being more expensive. Apparently, there is a paste made with the umeboshi called neri-ume, but I’ve never found it—I end up mashing up the plums myself for the chicken yakitori recipe, or for umeboshi dressing. The umeboshi I have in the fridge right now are labeled “shio hikaeme” which I think means they are pickled with less salt.
    Once in a while I see umeboshi that are very wrinkled. I think they are dried longer after pickling. And when my daughter’s friend from Hikone visited us, he had some umeboshi that were almost like raisins, but bigger. And very very salty and sour.

  3. Hi Tess, this is very useful info for me. Thx a lot : ) I was wondering which ones to buy in the past.

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