Sweet and Sour Pork (Gu Lou Yok): The winning combination of crispy pork and pineapples in the sweet and sour sauce have a kind of universal appeals to young and old. The tangy sweet and sour sauce is the main highlight of the dish, and the aroma of the sauce being cooked always brings hungry family members to the kitchen to pinch a bite!
Sweet and Sour Pork (Gu Lou Yok) is typically a Cantonese dish which is served in most Chinese restaurants as well as Zi Char stalls or Chap Chai Pung (Economical Rice) stalls. There is nothing more satisfying than eating home cooked sweet and sour pork where you can actually taste the pork meat which is juicy and succulent.
The few times that I have ordered sweet and sour pork when eating out, what was served to me was mostly lumps of hard dry crust without much substance, coated with sweet and sour sauce to mask the lack of flavour and substance, a far cry from the dish that I love and grew up eating. So, I would highly recommend that you DIY this dish at home and I am confident that all your effort and time taken into preparation of this yummy Sweet and Sour Pork recipe will not go to waste.
The tangy and sourish sauce is the main highlight of this dish and it makes people feel so hungry when they smell the aroma coming out from the kitchen. Kids will also love the dish because of the winning combination of crispy pork and pineapples in the sweet and sour sauce. Sweet and Sour Pork is an all time favourite not only among the Chinese but also among the Americans and British.
During my stay in England years ago, whenever my husband and I went to Chinatown in Soho, London for a meal, I noticed that sweet and sour pork is a popular dish among the British, and is a must-order dish for them. If there is a list of the most well known Chinese dishes among non-Chinese people, Sweet and Sour Pork will probably be in the top 5 place!
Sweet and Sour Pork Bites (Gu Lou Yok)
Sweet and Sour Pork is one of the most well known and well loved Chinese dishes among the Chinese and non-Chinese alike, with its winning combination of crispy pork bites and tangy sweet and sour sauce.
- 300 g Pork Collar
- 250 ml Oil For deep-frying
Marinade for the pork
Ingredients for the Sauce:
Ingredients accompanying the Sauce
- 1 tbsp Oil For cooking the sauce
- 1 tbsp Chopped Garlic
- 1/2 Cucumber
- 1 Tomato
- 10 cubes Canned Pineapple Cubes
- 1/2 Red Capsicum
- 1 Red Chilli Optional
PREPARATION FOR SWEET AND SOUR PORK (40 mins)
Wash the pork and cut into 3 cm cubes.
Marinate the pork with all the marinade ingredients, except for the cornflour, rice flour and plain flour. Allow to sit for about 1 hour while preparing the other ingredients.
- Wash the cucumber, tomatoes, capsicum, red chilli.
- Cut the cucumber at both ends and use the cut end to rub both ends of the cucumber to remove the whitish sap from it.
Cut the cucumber lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Then pat dry the cucumber and cut into 1 cm cubes.
In a bowl, add 2 1/2 TBsp of rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of water. Mix well and add in the cucumber. Let it stand for 1 hr.
Cut the capsicum and tomatoes into 1 cm cubes.
Cut the chilli lengthwise to remove the seeds. Then cut it into strips.
In a bowl, add in the three remaining marinade ingredients (cornflour, rice flour and plain flour) and mix well. After the pork pieces have been marinated for 1 hr, add in the flour mixture and mix until well incorporated, and ready for deep-frying.
COOKING METHOD FOR SWEET AND SOUR PORK (35 mins)
In a wok, add in the 250 ml of oil over high heat.
Once the oil is heated up, add in the pork pieces in small batches ensuring they are covered in oil and fry for about 3 mins until it turns golden brown. Transfer onto a plate lined with kitchen towel and let cool for about 10 mins. Turn off the heat.
Sieve out all the burnt bits from the oil. Then turn the heat to high and re-fry the pork pieces for a 2nd time in small batches for about 1 min.
Transfer pork pieces onto a plate lined with fresh kitchen towel and set aside.
In a clean pan, add in 1 Tbsp of oil. Once the oil is heated, add in the chopped garlic and fry till aromatic.
Add in the capsicum and fry for 2 mins. Then, add in the tomatoes, pineapple cubes and chilli, and stir fry for 1 min.
Next, add in the pickled cucumber together with vinegar, the 3 tbsp of tomato sauce, 1-2 tsp light soya sauce and 150 ml water. Continue to cook until the sauce starts to bubble.
Mix the 1 tbsp cornflour with 2 tbsp of water to get a smooth cornflour solution. Slowly add cornflour solution into the sauce, stirring it constantly until it thickens. Taste the sauce to see if more sugar or vinegar needs to be added, according to your preferred taste.
- Once the gravy thickens and becomes sticky, stir in the pork pieces and mix well.
Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot with a bowl of steaming hot rice.
- When you buy the pork from the market, tell the butcher you want to cook Sweet and Sour Pork (Ku Lou Yuk) and he will know which cut is best for that. Usually it will be sold out early in the morning because that cut of the pork comes in small quantities.
- Adding rice flour to the flour mixture will make the pork more crispy after frying but do not add too much otherwise the crust will be too hard.
- If the gravy is too starchy or too diluted, more water or cornflour can be added. The gravy should not be too diluted. It should be thick and sticky to coat the pork pieces uniformly and evenly.
- You can substitute the pork with chicken and fish but the cooking time for these substitutes vary. Chicken and fish require a shorter deep-frying time.
- When frying the pork, the oil must be very hot so that it will instantly cook the outer surface of the pork, thereby sealing in the juices so that the meat won't dry out during the deep frying process.
- Its very important to fry the pork a second time at high heat, because this helps to force out the oil from inside the pork, so that it won't be oily and greasy when you bite into it.
- You can also use apple cider if you have it at home instead of rice vinegar.
- Do not mix the gravy with the pork until you are ready to serve otherwise it will be soggy.
- Sweet and Sour Pork is best served piping hot. You can reheat the pork in the oven for a few minutes before mixing with the gravy which must be heated up as well.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Egg-Free: Leave out the egg in the marinade
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.