Gulao Rou

Sweet and Sour Pork Made with Fruit Juice

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as Part of a Chinese Meal, or 2 as a Single Dish.

Appears in

This dish is often on menus in mediocre Chinese restaurants in the West where it invariably appears as a sweet, gluey, reddish concoction. This version, however, captures the virtues of the classic dish, “Gulao Pork.” In China, gulao means venerable. In it, a sour taste was obtained from such fruits as plums, oranges, and berries, then combined with sweetened vinegar and other seasonings. Below I use fresh orange juice along with sugar and vinegar. The “sweets” and “sours” combine and penetrate the meat, while the shallots provide a rich and fragrant background.


  • 700 g/ lb boneless pork neck on the fatty side
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 225 g/8 oz whole shallots, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese red vinegar
  • 275 ml/10 fl oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 75 g/3 oz unbleached plain flour
  • 75 g/3 oz cornflour
  • 450 ml/16 fl oz peanut oil


Cut the pork into 5-cm/2-in chunks and combine with the salt, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, sesame oil, egg, and the tablespoon of cornflour. Mix well and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil and add the shallots and sugar. Cook over low heat until the sauce becomes a light caramel colour, about 2 minutes. Pour in the Chinese red vinegar and orange juice and simmer for 4 minutes. Gently beat in the cornflour mixture, and when the sauce thickens, season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside and keep warm.

Combine the flour and 75 g/3 oz cornflour together in a large paper bag. Add the marinated pork pieces, close the bag, and toss well to coat each piece of pork. Shake off the excess flour.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil and a few pork pieces and deep-fry until cooked through, about 4 minutes. You will have to do this in several batches. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Drain off all the oil from the wok or pan, wipe it clean, and reheat the sauce. Return the fried pork pieces to the wok and stir to coat well with the sauce. Serve at once.