Recipe: Sweet and Sour Sauce

This recipe is a family favourite. Long before the idea of the fake away (this was pre-1989 I think) my parents discovered Ken Hom, bought a wok and got into cooking Chinese style food. 

As kids, it was fantastic. Imagine your favourite takeaways but instead of being restricted to a little sample of everything, there was plenty. Some recipes stuck. Some became bastardised into versions of themselves. Some were left by the wayside as they were faffy/complicated/expensive for a family of 6. I mean the amount of chopping even a basic stir fry involved for 6 hungry mouths? Doesn’t bear thinking about – especially before pre-prepared stir fry veg!

This one, kind of stuck. It became one of my dad’s specialities, and since we’ve all grown up, and moved out, something that I’d actually forgotten about. That was until over the Christmas break, when one of my sisters and my brother both asked for a batch of the sauce from my dad that I remembered I kind of know the recipe!

So, just for those two – so they can make their own (and those who asked for it over Instagram yesterday), here it is. Sweet and sour sauce. No extra sugar, no MSG, it’s totally vegan, and veggie friendly. This is just the base sauce, so you can add whatever you like to it. Deep fry some tofu, add chicken straight to the pan, chuck in a pack of king prawns. I’m not sure how close this is to my dad’s actual recipe, or even the original, but this is my version, the one I have for my lunch today!

A word on a couple of the ingredients. The cucumber seems odd, but it’s so good. It adds a balance of bitterness and a freshness that you’d struggle to get otherwise. As for the pineapple, fresh is best, but not always viable. Whilst Aldi might have an offer on them this week, that’s not always the case. You can used tinned, but try to use tinned in juice, rather than syrup as it’ll be super sweet otherwise. I’d add the fruit, and only if it’s not sweet enough for you, add the juice bit by bit til it works for you. 

Finally, the vinegar. I’ve recommended roughly the amount I use. You might find it too sharp, or not sharp enough, add a little, then stir, taste and then you can always add more if it need it. It’s all about balance. Work out what you like. 

It also freezes really well, so you can always stash some away and reheat it as an accompaniment to a stir fry. 

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Servings 6 people


  • 300 grams Fresh pineapple, finely diced (or one tin)
  • 1 Large onion, finely diced
  • 3 Peppers, finely diced
  • 2 inches Fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 Cucumber, finely diced
  • 2 Tins chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil


  1. Add the onion and coconut oil to a pan and fry gently until translucent.

  2. Add the ginger, and fry for about 1 minute.

  3. Add the peppers, cucumber, and pineapple. Cook until just softened.

  4. Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about ten minutes. 

  5. Add the vinegar to taste. If you do make it a little too sharp, you can add more pineapple, or event a little sugar to balance it. 

  6. Serve as a side, or as a dish all of it's own. 





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