About this recipe:All the family will love this sweet and sour casserole that makes the most of seasonal fresh plums. It's traditionally flavoured with ginger, five-spice, vinegar, soy and spring onions, and the addition of water chestnuts and cubes of sweet potato turn it into a complete, low-fat dish.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 lean pork loin steaks
800g Victoria plums, halved and stoned
4 spring onions, trimmed
4 sweet potatoes, peeled
220g can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
3cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
¼ tsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
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Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then quickly fry the pork steaks on both sides until lightly browned. Transfer to a large casserole with a lid.
Roughly chop the plums, cut the spring onions into 2cm lengths and cut the sweet potatoes into 1cm cubes. Add all of these to the casserole with the water chestnuts.
Put the ginger into a small bowl. Add the garlic, chilli if using, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, wine or sherry and the five-spice powder. Mix well, then spoon over the ingredients in the casserole. Cover with the lid, then cook in the oven, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick.
Taste the sauce and add more sugar or vinegar if needed, depending on the flavour of the plums, to give a good balance of sweet and sour tastes. Scatter over the chopped coriander and serve.
This recipe would work equally well with skinless, boneless chicken thighs.
Chinese Shaoxing rice wine can be found in the ‘special ingredient’ section in larger supermarkets or can be bought from Chinese food stores.