Pete’s favourite dish at his favourite Chinese restaurant (the China Rose in Nesscliffe, for those local to Shrewsbury) is the sizzling fillet steak stir fry (the steak cut into strips, obviously!), which comes in a savoury tomato sauce with lots of onions. I’ve never tried competing with it, because I don’t run a restaurant!
However, there was a lamb steak in the fridge at home yesterday, which I wanted to make a stir fry with for Pete’s dinner, rather than the usual pan-seared one. I asked what sort of sauce he wanted with it, and he suggested a tomato-based one (hmmm, wonder where he got the idea). I guess he meant for me to get a bottle of readymade Szechwan sauce on the way home from work, but that wasn’t MY plan. I wanted to make the sauce at home (or an approximation thereof). I could have looked it up online but since it’s my favourite for its spiciness and I know more or less the flavour I was after, I just decided to wing it.
Of course, this sauce being for Pete, I had no intention of making it as hot as it should ideally have been, but I kid you not when I say that it was absolutely PACKED with flavour and smelt so very good as it was cooking. I know this is only my opinion, but I really think that you should try it.
Pete’s favourite cuisine of all is Chinese. I’ve cooked Chinese stir fries for him at home… but here’s a confession – the sauce has always come from a bottle, so strictly speaking, it’s not cooking as such. It’s just prepping the veg and meat or chicken. When he says “Babe, this is good”, I get a sneaking feeling of guilt at the praise because I feel it’s undeserved. Hell, anyone can “cook” like that.
So this recipe is my attempt at a sauce that’s not from a bottle – it’s from several bottles and a can, haha. No, seriously – I know that sweet’n’sour is probably the most ubiquitous of all Chinese takeaway items. I don’t know if “real” Chinese would be surprised to learn that this is “their” cuisine, much as Madrasis would be surprised to learn that there’s a “Madras curry” in the UK that has literally nothing to do with South Indian food!
Authentic or not, sweet’n’sour is Pete’s favourite recipe, so I’ve tried to make it, with no extra sugar added. All the sweetness is strictly from the pineapple (and whatever is in the ketchup).
One extra tip: Before you add the chicken pieces, taste the marinade sauce to make sure it’s to your liking. You can add a bit more of whatever you feel is lacking.