sweet and sour pork

Sweet and Sour Pork Spare Ribs ( tangcu paigu)

Sweet and sour is a generic term that encompasses many styles of sauce, cuisine and cooking methods. It is a classic style of preparation enjoyed across China. Originated in Jiangsu’s Wuxi, the flavor sweet and sour, or tangcu, exists in all China’s major regional cuisines. Depending on the region, tangcu is prepared differently, and the method used to achieve the dish’s color varies as well.

Jiangsu cuisine (Su Cuisine) is one of the Eight Great Cuisines of China. The food is more gourmet style, very refined and presented colorfully and artistically.  The Jiangsu dishes tend to be mildly sweet in taste.

sweet and sour porkRibs cooked in this style are called tangcu paigu. It has 3 main ingredients; vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Vinegar lends the sour flavor and sugar supplies the sweet. In the southwest of China (Yunnan) Sichuan peppercorns and crushed red pepper is added for a bit of a kick.

Beef ribs can be substituted for pork. Beef will be just as tasty but may require longer cooking time depending on the size of the ribs. This is an uncomplicated dish to prepare and pairs perfectly with steamed white rice.

Ingredients

900 grams (2 lb.) pork spare ribs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 Thai red chilies, chopped
5 garlic cloves. Minced
3 tablespoon (10 grams) ginger, cut into strips
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Shiaoxing)
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 ½ tablespoon white granulated sugar
1/2 + 1/3 cup Chinese Kangle vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

sweet and sour porkRinse and pat dry pork ribs.

sweet and sour porkHeat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan, add chilies, ginger and garlic. Sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.

swet and sour porkAdd in pork ribs. Cook on high flame, stirring continuously till they change color, about 5 minutes.

sweet and sour porkReduce the flame and add cooking wine, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Stir fry for 1 minute on high flame, then add 2 ½ cups of water.

sweet and sour porkBring to a boil and let it cook on high flame for 5 minutes. Now reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

While the pork ribs are cooking, mix vinegar and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Check the pork after 1 hour. It should be 80% cooked. To test if it has reached the right doneness, prick with a chopstick or fork, it shouldn’t be falling=off-the-bone at this point.

sweet and sour porkTurn the flame to high, add the sugar and vinegar mixture. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, stir continuously to avoid the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan till the pork is cooked completely.  The fat from the pork will collect around the pan which can be removed with a spoon.

sweet and sour porkWhen the water has almost completely evaporated and the pork is tender and juicy, turn off the heat. Add green onions and sprinkle sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

Notes:
Vinegar and sugar mixture should be added towards the end, when the pork is 80% done. This step is to avoid sugar from becoming sticky and also it gives a very good flavor to the dish.

Sweet and Sour Pork Spare Ribs ( tangcu paigu)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Jiangsu's (china) sweet and sour pork spare ribs are cooked with 3 main ingredients; vinegar, sugar and soy sauce lending the dish a distinct flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 900 grams (2 lb.) pork spare ribs, 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 Thai red chilies
  • 5 garlic cloves. Minced
  • 3 tablespoon (10 grams) ginger, cut into strips
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
  • 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 3 ½ tablespoon white granulated sugar
  • ½ + ⅓ cup Chinese vinegar (kangle vinegar)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pat dry pork ribs.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan, add chilies, ginger and garlic. Sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  3. Add in pork ribs. Cook on high flame, stirring continuously till they change color, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the flame and add cooking wine, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Stir fry for 1 minute on high flame, then add 2 ½ cups of water.
  5. Bring to a boil and let it cook on high flame for 5 minutes. Now reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. While the pork ribs are cooking, mix vinegar and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Check the pork after 1 hour. It should be 80% cooked. To test if it has reached the right doneness, prick with a chopstick or fork, it shouldn’t be falling=off-the-bone at this point.
  7. Turn the flame to high, add the sugar and vinegar mixture. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, stir continuously to avoid the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan till the pork is cooked completely. The fat from the pork will collect around the pan which can be removed with a spoon.
  8. When the water has almost completely evaporated and the pork is tender and juicy, turn off the heat. Add green onions and sprinkle sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.
Notes
Vinegar and sugar mixture should be added towards the end, when the pork is 80% done. This step is to avoid sugar from becoming sticky and also it gives a very good flavor to the dish.

 

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