Our tastes are often established at a very young age. As a child in the 1950’s I can remember the exciting trips to the Los Angeles China Town. Sure, it was tourist attraction and the shops catered to the American idea of the Orient. Strange and exotic sights and smells awaited and my sister and I took it all in. We were especially attracted to the inner courtyard and the Chinese restaurants. What we saw, what we smelled, and what we ate there pretty much established our idea of what Chinese food was all about. I suppose I should rephrase that. As we are astute enough to know Chinese food here in the States is more correctly a style adapted to American tastes, our ideas of how Americanized Chinese food should look, smell and taste was implanted and had remained there ever since.
To that end I have sought the perfect sweet and sour sauce to make at home. I have tried many varieties and have had some successes but I never felt that any of them was just right and so the search went on. The other night the wife and I were invited to Abbie and Mariano’s house for dinner. Everything was delicious but two of the dishes, sweet and sour chicken and Chinese spareribs, were particularly good and I wanted to add them to my repertoire of recipes. After all, Abbie’s sweet and sour sauce was spot on and evoked the taste of Los Angeles’s old China Town, of the long gone General Lee’s Restaurant (1878 - 1985), a taste that continued to evolve with visits to the now legendary Phil Ahn’s Moon Gate Restaurant (1954 - 1990). Come and prepare a sweet and sour sauce reminiscent of the masters of old.