27th Jul, 2021

Recipes From My Travels - Crispy Cantonese pork in 'better than OK' Brummie sauce

Coventry Editorial 17th Jul, 2021

CHEF and blogger Paul James writes for our paper.

Something a little bit different today, a bit of culinary history.

You’ve probably seen this dish on the menu of your local Chinese restaurant or takeaway many times and probably wondered what ‘OK sauce’ was.

Maybe you thought it was a Chinese import or secret Chinese recipe that was brought to our shores, but you would be surprisingly wrong….

OK sauce is actually a British sauce, It was first produced by George Mason and Company before being acquired and manufactured by Colemans. The sauce dates back to before the First World War, although the exact date of the first production is hard to find, but it is believed to have been around 1880.

OK Sauce is a fruity brown sauce, very similar to our very own fruity HP sauce which had its manufacturing factory at Aston Cross, Birmingham.

In May 2006, Heinz announced plans to switch production of HP Sauce from Aston to its European sauces facility in Elst, Netherlands.

The announcement prompted a call to boycott all Heinz products.

The move, resulting in the loss of approximately 125 jobs at the Aston based factory, was criticised by politicians and union officials, especially as the parent company still wanted to use the image of the House of Commons on its bottles.

In the same month, local Birmingham Labour MP Khalid Mahmood brandished a bottle of HP Sauce during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons as part of a protest against the Heinz move.

He also made reference to the sauce’s popularity with the former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Wilson’s gravy) who according to his wife smothered everything with the popular sauce.

So this is my recreation of this popular Cantonese dish using various ingredients but most importantly HP sauce which is still regarded by the majority of Brummies as “its one of our own”

Visit recipesfrommytravels.com for more on Paul’s blogs and recipes.


Crispy Pork in Cantonese sauce (OK sauce)


4 think pork loin chops thinly sliced

Chilli flakes, juice of half lemon, pinch of black pepper and 1/2 tsp of cornflour for marinading the pork slices overnight.

250ml water

125ml tomato sauce

4tbsp brown sauce (HP Sauce)

100g brown sugar

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon five spice powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cornflour

2 red onions finely chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped

1 green chilli finely chopped

1tsp of garlic paste

100g plain flour

1 large egg

100ml milk

200ml ice cold sparkling water

300ml sunflower oil


1. Marinade the pork strips overnight in a sealed container.

2. In a hot frying pan add 1tsp of oil, add the garlic and five spice and stir for about 30 seconds, then add all the vegetables until they go slightly soft. Add the brown sugar until it starts to dissolve.

3. Then add tomato sauce, brown sauce, soy sauce and water.

4. Give it a good stir then add the cornflour ( mix with a little water in a cup to form a paste before adding )

5. Let the sauce simmer.

6. Make up the batter mix using flour, beaten egg, milk and ice cold sparkling water.

7. Then add the pork strips to your batter mix.

8. In a wok heat 300ml of sunflower oil and carefully add the pork strips in small batches ( otherwise the temperature will drop and the batter won’t be crispy )

9. Once each batch is cooked drain on some kitchen paper.

10. Add the crispy pork to the simmering sauce, reserving a few of the strips to garnish on top.

11. Serve and eat straight away.

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