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How to Cook Sweet and Sour Pork

How to Cook Sweet and Sour Pork

Written by Candice SongUpdated Nov. 21, 2023
Sweet and Sour Pork

One of the classic dishes of the Han people (90% of Chinese), sweet and sour pork is included in Zhejiang cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, and Cantonese cuisine, of which the Shandong-cuisine style is the most popular.

  • Chinese: 糖醋里脊 táng cù lǐjí /tung tsoo lee-jee/

Sweet and Sour Pork Nutrition

The tenderloin is the most tender cut of pork. It is very rich in protein and contains fat and some trace elements, such as calcium, phosphorus, thiamin (vitamin B1), iron, and niacin (vitamin B3).

The hemoglobin in the tenderloin can allay anemia. Much more effectively absorbed by humans than the iron contained in vegetables, it's favored by Chinese people (for whom anemia is more prevalent than in the West).

Ingredients and Seasonings

Main ingredients: 200g pork tenderloin, 1 egg, water

Seasonings: 2g salt, 5g white sugar, 10g light soy sauce, 10g starch, 30g tomato sauce, 10g vinegar, coriander

Sweet and Sour Pork


1. Crack the egg into a bowl. Separate the egg white and yolk.

Sweet and Sour Pork

2. Slice the pork tenderloin into strips.

3. Prepare the marinade using a pinch of salt, one teaspoon of starch, two teaspoons of light soy sauce, and an egg white.

4. Marinade the pork strips for about 20 minutes.

5. Put the remaining starch in a bowl. Add some water and vinegar to make a starchy sauce.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Cooking Instructions

1. Pour the cooking oil into a wok and heat to 190°C (375°F). Add the marinated pork strips and fry them until they turn brown. Remove the cooked pork from the wok and place on a plate.

2. Leave some oil in the wok. Put the tomato sauce and white sugar into the wok, and heat until the oil and sauce are fully combined.

3. Add some water to the wok and thoroughly heat the sweet and sour sauce before adding the pork strips to it.

4. Pour in the starchy sauce. Stir-fry all the ingredients until the pork and sauce are thoroughly mixed together.

5. Serve on a plate and add some coriander for decoration.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Watch our Video of How to Cook Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple.

The Legend of Sweet and Sour Pork

The legend goes that the first emperor of ancient China, Qin Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC), preferred sweet and sour dishes, and even held a cooking competition to select the best cook from the commoners to satisfy his taste for food.

An old woman, serving sweet and sour pork, stood head and shoulders above the other competitors, and, therefore, she was selected as an imperial cook.

Emperor Qin Shihuang loved her sweet and sour pork so much that he promised to reward the old woman. To his surprise, the old woman wanted neither gold nor silver, but instead she asked for a promotion for her son in the army.

Emperor Qin Shihuang promoted her son, as he had promised. Since then, sweet and sour pork has been famous among the Han people, passed down from one generation to another.

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