There’s few sauces that are more versatile than sweet and sour sauce. You can dip in it, baste with it, and if you’ve still got any sweet and sour sauce left, you can even cook with it.
Ultra cheap sweet and sour sauce
Now, if you really want something basic and ultra cheap that sort of tastes sweet and sour, you can mix together sugar, water, white vinegar, and ketchup in equal amounts. It actually tastes a lot better than it sounds. About one cup of each should give you roughly two cups of sauce.
That could be good enough for basting, depending on what you have in mind. However, if you want something more real, you’re probably going to need a few more ingredients than what you’ve already got in the kitchen, but probably not a lot more.
Simply good sweet and sour sauce
Your basic ingredients are a brown onion, a carrot, both a small green and a small red sweet pepper, a small can of pineapple pieces in natural juice, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornflour and 2 tablespoons tomato sauce. If you want to keep it more traditional, substitute 2 tablespoons ginger for the tomato sauce.
Your basic seasonings are 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 2 tablespoons caster sugar. You’ll also need about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and about 3/4 cup vegetable stock for sauteing and simmering down.
Start by preparing your vegetables. Peel and dice your onion. Core and dice your pepper. Peel and dice your carrot.
Mix together your cornflour and about 4 tablespoons of juice from the pineapple can. You’ll add this later to your sauce to thicken it.
Like all sauteing, you’re going to be heating your oil in a saucepan until a tiny piece of onion starts simmering the moment it hits the hot oil. Add in all of the onion and the carrot and saute until the onion is translucent.
Gradually add in the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock. Keep stirring! You want this to come to a low boil, and you definitely don’t want any part of it to burn.
Now add in your pineapple pieces and the rest of the juice, and gradually stir in your cornflour mixture. Don’t let it clump up! Just keep stirring it gently until it’s nice and thick. After it’s gluey-thick, stir in the diced peppers and let it simmer for a couple more minutes.
And that’s it. You’re ready to use your sweet and sour sauce for any other cooking or dipping you want.