Cantonese Cuisine: Sweet and Sour Pork

In Food, Lifestyle, Video

A cantonese classic and probably the best known Chinese recipe. Sweet and Sour Pork, or Gu Lao Rou, is as flavorful as it sounds. With its perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors, crunchy yet tender texture, and delightful color, this dish is an all time favorite at the dining table.

Delicious as it is, Sweet and Sour Pork is actually very easy to make. It’s flexible when it comes to ingredients and even the cooking method. Some prefer boneless pork ribs, tenderloin, or fatty pork belly. Other ingredients vary from pickled cabbage to colorful fruits. For Chef Luo, his first choice is fatty pork belly. The fat ensures a moist and tender texture, while the frying process makes it less greasy.  

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  • Pork belly
  • Bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Pineapple
  • Egg
  • Liquid starch
  • Starch powder
  • Salt
  • Sugar


Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • Brown sugar – 1/3 slab
  • Lemon – half
  • White vinegar – 2 tbsp
  • Liquid starch – 1 tbsp
  • Water – 1 cup



  1. Tenderize the meat using the knife spine. Then cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
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  2. Mix meat with salt, sugar, egg yolk, and liquid starch, then lightly coat with one layer of starch. %e5%92%95%e5%92%be%e8%82%89-10_eng
  3. Cut onion and bell peppers into similar size pieces.%e5%92%95%e5%92%be%e8%82%89-9_eng
  4. Prepare the sweet and sour sauce by boiling brown sugar slab and vinegar in water.
  5. Heat oil to 70% high, deep fry the meat until it floats to the top.
  6. Parboil the onion and bell peppers, then stir fry with pineapple pieces.
  7. Add in the sweet and sour sauce, and squeeze juice from half of a lemon, then thicken with starch.
  8. Once the sauce is boiling, bring in the meat, stir evenly and serve.

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The secret to this dish lies in a perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors, which calls for the right amount of salt and seasoning.

Pounding the meat with the back of the knife tenderizes it, making it easier to absorb the seasoning.   

How to know the meat is ready: Gently tap the meat, well-cooked meat will soon rise to the surface after the tap

Pour in the sauce before mixing in the meat so that the outer layer stays crispy.   



For a great dining experience and learn about the profound philosophy behind Chinese food, be sure to pay a visit to Radiance Tea House and Books. (


Origin of Gu Lao Rou:

  1. This dish is so appetizing with its combination of sweetness and tartness that it makes your mouth water.
  2. The crispy pork pieces are so moist and tender inside that people just gulped them down with a sound of “Gu Lu.”  
  3. During Qing Dynasty, “sweet and sour pork chop” was a popular dish among many westerners in Guangzhou. Yet the need to spit out bones became a major complaint. The chefs solved this problem by replacing pork chops with lean meat, and thus the birth of the Gu Lao Rou. Gu Lao, in turn, recalls the long history of the pork chop dish.


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