Chef J Chong’s Sweet & Sour Pork and Veggie Stir-Fry

Chef J Chong—originally from Toronto, but now calling Asheville home—is passionate about bringing Cantonese food to WNC. She sells dumplings and sauces at local farmers markets, leads cooking classes, and offers private dinners. J believes that food is medicine and food brings people together. J is a proud and vocal Asian queer activist for LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and AAPI people and continues to use her voice to fight against racial injustice. She serves on the boards for Campaign for Southern Equality and Asheville Strong.

As part of ASAP’s Appalachian Grown Chef’s Challenge, J created two dishes with ingredients from the farmers market and offered an Instagram Live demo on how to make them. Then she challenged other market shoppers to recreate the recipes.

Marinated pork:

  • 1 pound pork chop or loin, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger jun
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

Combine ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Sweet & sour sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces (or use 1 medium onion)
  • 2 peaches, seeded and cubed
  • 1 Asian pear, seeded and cubed

Heat oil in a wok. Add ginger and caramelize. After three minutes, add star anise. Let the ginger become golden in color. Add ketchup and give it a good stir. Once it starts to bubble, add vinegar and sugar. Let it simmer for 20 minutes on low. After 20 minutes, add peppers and onions and let it simmer for 5 minutes until they become tender. Add peaches and Asian pears and cook for 5 minutes.

Fried pork:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or chickpea flour for GF
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • canola oil for frying

Mix dry ingredients. Dredge marinated pork in dry mixture, then dip in beaten egg, then back into dry mix. Deep fry dredged pork bites in hot oil (approximately 350 degrees) until golden brown. Once all the juicy and tasty pork is cooked, add it to your sweet and sour sauce and mix well to coat every delicious bite!

Market veggie stir-fry:

  • 1 purple daikon, cut into 1/2-inch julienne
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 small onions, quartered
  • 1 bunch sweet choi, cut in half, separate stems and leaves
  • 1 bunch water spinach, cut in half, separate stems and leaves
  • bitter melon, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 pint shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut in half
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, cut into thirds
  • 1-inch piece ginger, julienned
  • 1 bottle ginger jun, to deglaze
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir well. Add shiitake and cook for three minutes. Deglaze with ginger jun. Add daikon, zucchini, stems of water spinach and sweet choi, and bitter melon (if using). Add sweet choi and water spinach leaves along with soy, sesame, and salt. To finish: Serve pork and veggies with a side of rice. Top with kimchi and a sunny-side-up egg. Enjoy!

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