Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork
Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork.
Ratings (9)
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Marinade Time: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
765 Calories
35g Fat
47g Carbs
62g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

It’s very likely at some point in your life you’ve eaten something sweet and sour. If you’ve eaten sweet and sour you’ve almost certainly eaten Cantonese style sweet and sour and it had either pork or chicken. But have you ever tried “Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork”?

Shanghai style sweet and sour pork is one of my all time favourite dishes and is a dish my grandfather used to cook for me when I was a child. My grandfather was a great cook and this combined with all of his love made me madly fall in love with this dish.

To be very honest with you I’m not really a fan of sweet and sour pork that is made with ketchup (Cantonese style). I just think ketchup based sweet and sour pork is too strong for me but I love this Shanghai style sweet and sour pork.

This dish uses “black vinegar” instead of rice vinegar and you can use any kind of sugar you want for this dish. I personally prefer to use demerara sugar or rock sugar for this dish because these two types of sugar have much more flavour than caster sugar. 

Black vinegar is usually associated with Zhenjiang city, China. Black vinegar is a mature vinegar. It's like Balsamic vinegar in Chinese cooking. It's made from sorghum, peas, barley, bran and chaff. There are different types of black vinegar and some add fruit and vegetables during the making process to give it a different flavour. Apart from making this dish, you can use black vinegar as a dipping sauce for dumplings, add it into soups to add an extra flavour and make different kinds of sauce.

Some of the health benefits of black vinegar are:

Lowers cholesterol, prevents cancer, improves your energy level, detoxes your body and helps your digestive system, and more.

You can use pork ribs cut into small cubes if you want to (I cooked this dish with pork ribs for my upcoming cookbook "Home-Style Chinese Cooking") or you can use pork belly (my favourite choice), pork loin or shoulder roast. If you don't like pork at all you can substitute pork with diced chicken breast.

For saving time when preparing this dish, you can marinade the pork the night before and just cook it the next day. For more sweet and sour sauce recipes please have a look at the article "sweet and sour sauce". 


  • 1 3/4 pounds/800 grams pork belly (skinless and cut into cubes)
  • 2 pints water (for cooking the pork belly)
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 750 milliliters oil (for deep frying the pork)
  • For the Marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Batter:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • For the Seasonings:
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoon​s demerara sugar (You can use caster sugar or rock sugar instead of demerara sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar

Steps to Make It

  1. Marinade pork belly with marinade for couple hours.

  2. Boil 1.25 litres water and 2 slices of ginger in a stock pot and add pork belly. Bring it to a boil first then simmer for 1 hour. Drain the water.

  3. Mix step 2 pork belly with all the ingredients for batter.

  4. Heat up 750ml oil in a wok or deep saucepan. Deep fry the pork belly until it’s golden colour, take it out from the oil and drain the oil.

  5. Heat up 3 tablespoon water and 3 tablespoon demerara sugar and cook until the water and sugar turn into thick syrup.

  6. Turn the fire to medium temperature. Add pork belly in and keep stirring for a couple minutes until the syrup looks like it has coated the pork belly.

  7. Add light soy sauce and keep stirring for 1-2 minutes.

  8. Add black vinegar and keep stirring for 1 minutes. Ready to serve.