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Sweet and sour chicken/ pork

Koe loe yuk/ koe loe kai
Sweet and sour chicken

Sweet and sour chicken/ pork

The Chinese dishes sweet and sour chicken or sweet and sour pork consist of pork or chicken in a dough jacket served with a sweet and sour sauce containing pineapple and crispy pieces of pepper. It is one of the most famous Chinese dishes in the world.

What is sweet & sour chicken/ pork

The colourful Chinese sweet and sour dish traces its origins to Cantonese cuisine and is very popular with Europeans. It consists of tender pork cubes in a dough jacket, plus a sweet and sour sauce with pineapple and crispy bell pepper. Together this combination makes sweet and sour pork one of the most popular Chinese dishes in the world.

Koe loe kai is the poultry version of koe loe yuk- cubes of chicken fillet is used instead of pork. Sweet and sour sauce is widely used in Chinese cuisine, including in dishes like guo bao rou, Dangbei sweet and sour pork, sweet and sour ribs, sweet and sour goose and sweet and sour fish.

Did you know

It is rumoured that the first emperor of ancient China, Qin Shi Huang, loved sweet and sour dishes and launched a competition to find the best cook among his subjects. In Europe dishes with sweet and sour sauce has been eaten since the middle ages. 

East vs. West

In China, sweet and sour sauce is not only used as a stir fry sauce, but also as a dip. Just like in other Asian countries, the Chinese are much less messy with sauce than Europeans are used to. The loose-fitting dough jacket around the meat is a typical Western addition to the dish, in China, the meat is sometimes covered with a thin batter or some flour and egg but never a whole dough ball. 

How to prepare koe loe yuk

The sauce is the most important element in the dish. Ingredients like rice vinegar and, surprisingly, ketchup give it its typical sweet and sour taste. The sauce is balanced with soy sauce, sugar and sometimes pineapple juice. In China, plums can also be used as a sweet element in the sauce.

Cubes of pork are first marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and rice wine before being coated in a batter based on wheat flour and egg. The cubes are then fried.

The vegetables, usually bell pepper and onion are briefly stir-fried so that they retain their colour and crispiness. The pineapple and sauce ingredients are then added and thickened with cornflour. The meat is allowed to warm up in the sauce before being served.

How to eat

Sweet and sour chicken and sweet and sour pork are usually served with white rice.

Also try

If you like the combination of pork and sweet and sour sauce, similar flavours can be found in a Vietnamese noodle soup dish.

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Sweet and sour chicken/ pork