If you’re going to have a party or get-together with your friends, one dish you can serve that almost everyone loves is Chinese sweet and sour pork. Koreans have their own Chinese-Korean variation of it called tangsuyuk. It’s crunchy pieces of fried pork coated in a jelly-like sweet and sour sauce filled with colorful fruits and vegetables.
This was always my #1 favorite dish when I was young, and we used to order it from restaurants as a treat on special days. Over time I became a tangsuyuk connoisseur! lol! And my satisfaction varied depending on the skill of the cook. There are a couple of important criteria for top-level tangsuyuk: a delicious sauce and super-crispy crunchy pork.
Eventually a friend of mine in Korea showed me her secret for a crunchy batter, and it’s turned out perfectly for me ever since: solidified starch soaked in water, mixed with egg white, fried twice.
Since I learned this, I make tangsuyuk whenever I feel like it, and it always turns out crunchy crunchy and delicious. When I have a party, my guests always tell me: “This tangsuyuk is better than any restaurant!”
You can replace the pork in this recipe with beef, chicken, or even shiitake mushrooms for a vegetarian version. This video is an HD remake of an earlier video I made where I used beef, but the recipe is pretty much the same. I added less sugar this time, but if you want to make it sweeter, add ⅓ cup sugar instead of ¼ cup.
And be sure that when you fry the pork for the second time, the pork looks super-crispy to the point of becoming breakable. That way, when it’s finally mixed with the gooey sauce, it’ll stay crunchy for a long time. Your guests will be totally knocked out!
- 1 pound pork shoulder or tenderloin, cut into 2 inch x ½ inch strips
- ½ teaspoon minced ginger
- 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2-3 dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in cold water for 1½ hour
- 1 cup plus ¼ cup potato starch
- 1 large egg white
- ⅓ cup sliced onion
- 1 small carrot, sliced thinly
- ⅓ English cucumber, sliced thinly
- 2 rings of pineapple (canned or fresh), cut into halves
- 1 small red apple, cored, and sliced into ⅓ inch thick pieces
- ¼ cup sugar (white, brown, or turbinado sugar)
- 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons white or apple vinegar
- 4 cups plus 1 teaspoon corn oil or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Directions (Serves 4)
- Combine the pork, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, the ginger, and the ground black pepper in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate.
- Mix 1 cup starch and 3 cups of water in a bowl with a spoon. Let it sit on the kitchen counter until the starch sinks to the bottom of the bowl and turns solid (about one and a half hour).
- Drain the mushrooms, remove the tough roots, and cut into bite size pieces.
- Mix 2 tablespoons starch with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and let it sit for later, to thicken the sauce.
- Fill a deep 10 to 12 inch skillet with 4 cups of corn or vegetable oil. Heat it up over medium high heat until it reaches 330°F.
- Take the pork out of the refrigerator and mix with the remaining 2 tablespoons of starch.
- Pour out the water from the bowl of starch that was soaking. Add the egg white and mix well.
- Add the starch mixture to the pork. Use your hand to gently mix it in.
- Dip a piece of pork in the oil to see if it’s ready. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
- Drop the pork pieces into the oil. Use tongs to split them apart if they stick to each other. Fry in batches if you need to, until they are crispy and turn light golden brown (5 to 7 minutes). There should be plenty of room in the skillet for them to fry without always touching each other.
- When done, transfer to a strainer set over a bowl to drain.
Make the sauce:
- Heat the 1 teaspoon of corn oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and carrot and stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add the apple and stir-fry 1 minute.
- Add 3 cups of water, the sugar, the vinegar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and bring to a boil.
- Stir the small bowl of starch water one last time before adding to the sauce. Stir it in with a wooden spoon. The sauce will thicken and shiny.
- Let it sizzle for a few minutes and then remove from the heat.
- Mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small bowl, to use as a dipping sauce.
- Heat up the oil and fry the pork for the second and last time, until they are very crispy and golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes). You can crowd them in the skillet this time, but the color of the pork should be golden brown and shatteringly crisp. You should be able to feel the crispness through your tongs.
- Transfer to the strainer to drain, then put on a large plate.
- Reheat the sauce over medium high heat until it bubbles. Stir in the cucumber and pineapple for 1 minute. Add the sesame oil and stir for 10 seconds.
- Pour the sauce into a large bowl and serve on the side with the fried pork, allowing diners to dip their pork into the sauce as they eat. Alternatively you can pour the sauce over the pork and let everyone dig in. Whichever you choose, the soy sauce-based dipping sauce always goes on the side.