Sweet and sour beef (or pork)

Tangsuyuk 탕수육

Tangsuyuk is a Chinese dish which is very popular in Korea. When I was young, this dish was always my number one choice at a Chinese restaurant. When I passed my middle school exam, my father took me and all my family members and some of his friends to celebrate. He asked: “What would you like to eat, my smart girl? I’ll buy whatever you want!”

I answered before he finished his sentence: “Tangsuyuk! And jjajangmyeon!” Tangsuyuk is crispy fried meat in a jelly sauce mixed with colorful vegetables, overflowing on a huge plate.

I sometimes order tangsuyuk at either a Korean restaurant or Chinese restaurant. It’s known as “sweet and sour pork” (or beef), but my satisfaction varies, depending on the restaurant. There are 2 important factors you need to master to make this dish stand out: the crispiness of the meat and the taste of the sauce. I’m releasing a few priceless tips to all of you now!

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • ½ pound beef, cut into bite sized pieces 1½ inch x ½ inch x ⅓ inch, mixed with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Store it in the fridge
  • 1 cup, ¼ cup, and 2 tablespoons of potato starch
  • 1 egg white
  • ⅓ cup’s worth of  cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup carrot, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-5 dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 1 hour, drained, and chopped up into bite sized pieces
  • ½ apple, sliced (can substitute with plums, peaches, or nectarines)
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks
  • 2 teaspoons and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • salt
  • water
  • vegetable oil


  1. Combine 1 cup of potato starch powder and 2 cups of water in a bowl. Set aside for 3-4 hours until the starch sinks in the bowl.
  2. Pour out the water from the starch.  The starch will be solid and stiff. Add 1 egg white and ¼ cup starch powder and mix it well with a wooden spoon
  3. Heat up about 3 cups of vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok. When the oil is heated, add the beef to the batter and mix well to coat.
  4. Fry the beef strips for about 5 minutes until they look light brown and crispy. The beef strips should feel crispy through your tongs as you handle them. Then put the fried crispy beef strips into a strainer. Set aside.

Next, let’s make delicious sauce!

  1. Heat up a pan with a few drops of vegetable oil.
  2. Add onion first and stir it up for 1 minute. Then add carrot, wood ear mushrooms, apple, and pineapple. Keep stirring for about 1 minute.
  3. Add 1½ cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, ⅓ cup of sugar, and ¼ cup of vinegar. Cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add the cucumber.
  5. Mix 2 tablespoon of starch powder and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Add it to the sauce and stir it in. The sauce will turn thick and shiny.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. The sauce will look like light jelly but it will also be sizzling.

Now you made your fried beef strips and sauce! If you’re waiting for your family or guests, just take a break and do the next steps just before you’re ready to serve.

  1. Reheat the oil and fry the beef strips again, until each strip is very crispy.
  2. Put the fried beef on a large platter.
  3. Reheat the sauce for a minute and pour it over top of the beef strips.
  4. Serve it hot with a dipping sauce made with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.



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