Chinese culture is based on the yin-yang concept of universal balance and absolute harmony. Sweet and sour are only two of the many opposite elements which symbolize this philosophy, but they are the most commonly encountered. The permutations of sweet and sour are endless as long as you stick to the fundamental principle, balancing honey and wine vinegar, honey and malt vinegar, even marmalade with balsamic vinegar or tomato sauce and pineapple juice. It is a matter of ingenuity and the ingredients you use are less important than achieving a sauce that is a harmonious blend.
Traditional Chinese sweet and sour dishes are made with plum sauce and rice wine, vinegar or lemon juice. The authentic sauce is easy to reproduce. You can make a large batch, omitting the cucumber and the onion, and refrigerate it for up to a week. Add the vegetables just before cooking.
If you are using previously fried, battered pork or chicken, simply combine the sauce and coated meat in a wok or pan and stir to blend. Pork cubes are best floured and refrigerated for a few hours before being deep-fried for a sweet and sour dish as this makes them crisp.
** Asian Recipes