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Sweet and Sour Pork Bellies

Tender melt-in-your-mouth pork bellies, simply bursting with a bold sweet and sour flavor. This is definitely one of the best ways to enjoy pork bellies.
Ingredients to prepare Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies: pork belly, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, scallions, sugar, dark soy sauce, black vinegar, and sesame seeds.

Ingredients to prepare Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies: pork belly, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, scallions, sugar, dark soy sauce, black vinegar, and sesame seeds.

In China, there are two versions of sweet and sour pork, the southern style and the northern style. Since most of the Chinese overseas originated from the southern part of China, the one we are more familiar with is the southern/Cantonese style of sweet and sour pork.

Many posts ago, I shared a sweet and sour chicken recipe which is based on southern/Cantonese sweet and sour pork, so you can use that recipe and switch chicken with pork and make Cantonese style sweet and sour pork.

Today, I am going to share the northern style of sweet and sour pork, which is actually simpler and more straight forward to prepare, but is decidedly less colorful without all the pineapples and bell peppers which are commonly present in the southern style.

Step-by-step guide to cook Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies: (1) Sear marinated pork bellies until golden brown, fry ginger and scallions. (2) Caramelize sugar and return the seared pork bellies to coat. (3) Add the sauce and return the fried ginger and scallions, and cook until the meat is tender.

Step-by-step guide to cook Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies: (1) Sear marinated pork bellies until golden brown, fry ginger and scallions. (2) Caramelize sugar and return the seared pork bellies to coat. (3) Add the sauce and return the fried ginger and scallions, and cook until the meat is tender.

What do I need to prepare northern style Chinese sweet and sour pork?

For this dish, you will need:

  • 900 gram (2 lbs.) pork bellies, you can also use pork ribs too if you wish

And these two ingredients to marinate the pork:

  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, feel free to sub with regular soy sauce if that’s what you have
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, you can also use Japanese sake or dry sherry, and if possible, use drinking grade as oppose to cooking grade

For the aromatics, you will need:

  • 2 inch ginger, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced

For the sweet and sour sauce, northern Chinese style, you will need:

You will also need:

  • 2 tablespoon sugar, to caramelize and to give that glossy coating
  • sesame seeds, for garnish
  • the green part of the 4 scallions, thinly sliced, also for garnish
Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies.

Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies.

How do I cook northern style Chinese sweet and sour pork?

The steps to prepare and cook this lovely sweet and sour pork dish is as follow:

1. Marinate the pork.

Mix together pork bellies with light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. Set aside for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

2. Fry the aromatics.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium heat, fry ginger and white part of scallions until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set this aside.

3. Sear the pork.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, turn the heat to medium-high, and sear the marinated pork until all the surface is golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

4. Caramelize sugar.

Clean the wok, then add 1 tablespoon of oil and the sugar, heat on medium-low until the sugar has melted and slightly caramelized (the color is light brown), then add the seared pork and gently toss to coat. Turn off the heat.

5. Cook with sauce until tender.

Return the fried ginger and scallion, along with the sauce (dark soy sauce, black vinegar, Shaoxing wine, and water). Mix well, then turn the heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the wok, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.

6. Thicken the sauce.

Remove the cover, there should be some liquid left. Turn the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking until the sauce thickens and coats the meat with a high gloss finish.

7. Garnish and serve.

Transfer the finished dish to a serving platter. Garnish with sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies. How can you stop with one piece? And you'll need extra rice for this.

Chinese sweet and sour pork bellies. How can you stop with one piece? And you'll need extra rice for this.

How do I serve sweet and sour pork?

The most common way is to serve this with steamed white rice, but you can also thinly slice the cooked meat, and use as noodles/ramen topping, or use the thinly sliced meat as steamed buns (mantou) filling with some fresh lettuce leaves. Basically, make a Chinese style sandwich. :)

These are delicious whichever way you choose to serve them. If you are planning to serve this for a party, feel free to double or triple the recipe. Simply follow the same cooking guide even for a double/triple/quadruple batch. :)

Other sweet and sour dishes for you to try

If you love sweet and sour dishes like this, you may want to try these recipes too:

Sweet and Sour Pork Bellies

5.0 from 7 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 900 gram (2 lb.) pork bellies (or pork ribs), cut into 2" cubes
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 2 inches ginger, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, marinate pork with light soy sauce and Shaoxing for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  2. In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil and fry ginger and scallions on medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add another 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok, turn the heat to medium-high. Sear all the surface of pork until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  4. With another wok (or clean the one you are using), add 1 tablespoon oil and sugar and heat on medium-low heat until the sugar has melted and slightly caramelized (the color will turn brownish). Add the pork to the skillet/pan, coat with the melted sugar. Then turn the heat off.
  5. Return the cooked ginger and scallion to the wok, along with dark soy sauce, black vinegar, Shaoxing wine, and water. Mix well. Turn the heat on again, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook for 45 minutes until the meat is tender.
  6. Remove the cover, there should still be some liquid left. Turn the heat to medium-high, cook until the sauce thickens and coats the meat.
  7. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a serving plate, and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve with steam white rice.

Notes

  • (*) It is okay to use 1 kilogram of non-boneless pork ribs.
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Indonesian Kitchen

Comments

  • Alleyne Alleyne says:

    Hiii! Can i request a recipe for pempek please!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Sure Alleyne. I'm going to put it in my list :)

  • mon an ngon mon an ngon says:

    The sauce tastes perfectly. I can't wait making this for dinner. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anjali  Anjali says:

    Love all of the spices in this recipe - it makes it so flavorful!

  • Jessica Jessica says:

    We make this recipe all the time and it is SO delicious! It is the most requested dinner in our house! Thanks for sharing!

  • Maike Maike says:

    My husband's travelled a few times to Wuhan and he loves sweet & sour pork ribs. I can't wait to make this recipe for him. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Lucky him! Your husband must have tried one of the best sweet and sour pork ever then. :)

  • Jenn Jenn says:

    I had a piece of pork belly I needed to use so I tried this recipe. OMIGOSH! The flavor was unbelievable. I am keeping this recipe for sure!

  • Alison Alison says:

    This is a beautiful and flavorful sauce.

  • Erika Erika says:

    These pork bellies look so good. Definitely going to make this, and I have all the ingredients too!

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