Home-made Sweet and Sour (S&S)

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Bottled S&S

Bottled S&S

Recently, a colleague of mine asked me how to make the “lacquered” meat that is served at North American Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea what dish she was referring to. However, if all things sweet and sour (you know, that ubiquitous red sauce) peak your fancy, you can either go purchase a prepared sauce or you can look into a simple ratio of some common ingredients.

Though I am not going to describe how to make sweet and sour pork or beef, the recipe I use for the sauce of all things sweet and sour follows:

The principles behind the following sweet and sour sauce originate in a recipe for sweet and sour pork by Alton Brown. It is featured in one of my favourite episodes of the television show “Good Eats”: Down and Out in Paradise.

Among other wondrous things, this episode depicts Alton having active conversations with a coconut. I honestly don’t think more can be asked of the Food network 😛

Anyhow, according to the recipe, for 1 lb of pork, the following ingredients are needed:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 fluid ounce honey (approximately 1/8 cup)

These ingredient are then heated with the now floured and deep fried pork and various sliced vegetables until a nice glaze forms.

Now, let’s extrapolate the principles behind this recipe. This way, we don’t end up with approximately a cup of sweet and sour sauce every time we want to glaze a pork chop or a couple pieces of chicken.

The base of this sauce is ketchup, presumably for colour and texture. To this base, equal amounts of something sweet (sugar) as something sour (vinegar) are added. Finally, approximately half as much honey is added as the sweet or sour components.

Based on the quantities given, we can derive the ratio:
4 parts ketchup:1 part sweet ingredient:1 part sour ingredient:1/2 part honey

I think the honey serves to dampen the vinegar component of the ketchup. It should not be omitted.

Accordingly, my recipe for sweet and sour sauce to glaze a couple pork chops or serve as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers follows:


Stuff you’ll need:

  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or orange juice (i find that vinegar adds too much tang)
  • 2 tsp honey (I know, should be 1.5 tsp, but I like the added sweetness)


  1. Heat a sauce pan on medium.
  2. Add the ingredients all at once into the pan and heat until the mixture is translucent.
  3. Remove from heat and serve.

Please remember, you are heating ingredients that contain a lot of sugar. Pay attention, it burns quickly.

Link to other Cloned Recipes

If you’re interested in making or cloning other off-the-shelf brand name recipes (sauces or foods), topsercretrecipes.com or copykat.com should interest you.

If not, these sites still deserve a visit. They describe what may actually be in the foods that North Americans love so much…

Filed in: recipes

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.