Kaladkarin Diaries

Ramblings about food, cooking, recipes, travels, history and walking around Manila.

Sweet and Sour Pork

I grew up with Chinese food thanks to ah-ma (grandmother) and tai-ma (great-grandmother). I had my share of Filipino food, American food and fast food- but Chinese food will always be served on the table especially on a Sunday when the family is complete.

Sweet and sour pork(Chinese name: ɡū lǎo ròu, 咕老肉) is a Chinese dish that is particularly popular in Cantonese cuisine and may be found all over the world. A traditional Jiangsu dish called Pork in a sugar and vinegar sauce is considered its ancestor.

The origin of sweet and sour pork was in 18th century Canton or earlier. A record shows that the renowned Long Family in the prosperous neighbouring Shunde county (of the Qinghui Garden fame, and the family was active in the 18th and 19th centuries), used sweet and sour pork to test the skills of their family chefs. It spread to the United States in the early 20th century after the Chinese migrant goldminers and railroad workers turned to cookery as trades.

Hong Kong/Cantonese version
The Cantonese original is made with vinegar, preserved plums and hawthorn candy for a nearly scarlet colour and sweet-sour taste. A related Hong Kong/Cantonese-based dish is sweet and sour spare-ribs and it is identical in methods except spare-ribs are used in place of pork loins.

Northeast Chinese version
This name is also sometimes used outside of China for a distantly related dish from Northeastern Chinese cuisine, named Guō Bāo Ròu (锅包肉) in Chinese. It consists of a bite-sized pieces of pork in potato starch batter, deep-fried until crispy. They are then lightly stewed in a variation of a sweet and sour sauce, made from freshly prepared caramel, rice vinegar and flavored with ginger and garlic, so the battering absorbs the sauce and softens. Beijing variant has the sauce thin and watery, while the dish as prepared in other parts of Northern China itself often include thicker sauce with ketchup added to it, but both versions are characterized by an intense garlic flavor.

So as you can see, the recipe we enjoy here in Manila was influenced by China and not Hong Kong, later on adjusted for the Chinese Filipino palate.

This is one of the favorite dishes ordered in restaurants especially for short orders. This is a pretty simple dish, but a lot of people end up with a gooey mess. My tai-ma or ah-ma would do use the sweet and sour sauce with either pork or even ma-wan (Chinese meatballs). So I’m sharing my sweet and sour pork recipe, I just tweaked my tai-ma and ah-ma’s recipe a bit.


1/2 lb. pork tenderloin (cut into bite size pieces)
1/2 green bell pepper (about 2 oz. and cut into pieces)
1/2 red bell pepper (about 2 oz. and cut into pieces)
2 stalks scallions (only the white part, cut into 2 inch length)
2 pcs fresh/canned pineapple ring (cut into small pieces)
1 white onion (diced)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
Oil for frying


1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon rice wine

Frying Batter:

1/2 cup water
2 oz. all-purpose flour
1 oz. corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 egg
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 small pinch of salt

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

1 1/2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon plum sauce
1/8 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar (transparent in color)
1/2 teaspoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons water

1. Cut the pork tenderloin into pieces and marinate with the ingredients for 15-20 minutes.

2. Mix the sweet and sour sauce ingredients well and set aside.

3. Strain the dry ingredients of the frying batter and then add in the egg, water, and cooking oil to form a thick batter.

4. When the pork is well-marinated, transfer the pork pieces into the batter and make sure they are well coated. In a deep skillet, add in the cooking oil enough for deep-frying. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the pork pieces until they turn golden brown. Dish out and drain on paper towels.

5. Heat up a wok and add in some cooking oil. Add in the chopped garlic and stir fry until light brown, then follow by the white onions, bell peppers and pineapple pieces. Stir fry until you smell the peppery aroma from the peppers and then add in the sweet and sour sauce. As soon as the sauce thickenens, transfer the pork into the wok and stir well with the sauce. Add in the chopped scallions, do a few quick stirs, dish out and serve hot with steamed white rice.



Sweet and Sour Pork


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This entry was posted on May 22, 2016 by in cooking, Family Recipes, food, Heirloom, Manila, recipes and tagged , , , , , , .
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