What Is Koo Loo Pork? Experts Explain

Koo Loo Pork, also known as Sweet and Sour Pork or Goo Lou Yok, is a classic Cantonese dish that has gained popularity all over the world.

This dish features crispy fried pork pieces coated in a delicious sweet and sour sauce, made with a combination of sugar, ketchup, and rice vinegar. The addition of vegetables and fruit adds to the flavor and appeal of this dish.

Whether you’re a fan of Chinese cuisine or just looking to try something new, Koo Loo Pork is definitely worth a try. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of this dish, its ingredients, and how to make it at home.

So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about Koo Loo Pork!

What Is Koo Loo Pork?

Koo Loo Pork is a popular Chinese dish that originated in Cantonese cuisine. It is also known as Sweet and Sour Pork or Goo Lou Yok. The dish consists of deep-fried pork pieces that are coated in a sweet and sour sauce, which is made from a combination of sugar, ketchup, and rice vinegar. The dish is often served with vegetables and fruit, which add to the flavor and texture of the dish.

The Origins Of Koo Loo Pork

Koo Loo Pork is said to have originated during the Qing Dynasty in Guangdong, China. The dish was originally made with pork ribs, but foreigners in Guangdong were not used to eating meat with bones attached. As a result, the dish was adapted to use boneless meat, which is the version we are most familiar with today.

The name “Koo Loo” has an interesting history as well. While it is commonly translated to “sweet and sour pork” in English, the Cantonese name’s literal meaning is not clear. One urban legend suggests that Cantonese chefs named the dish after “gwei lo,” a derogatory term for white people, which would render the literal meaning of the dish as “white people meat.” However, this story has little factual basis and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Regardless of its origins, Koo Loo Pork has become a beloved dish both in China and around the world. Its sweet and sour flavor profile is universally appealing, and the dish has been adapted to suit different tastes and preferences. While some versions use ketchup and other Western ingredients in the sauce, traditional recipes call for hawberry jam to give the sauce its tangy flavor.

Ingredients Used In Koo Loo Pork

To prepare Koo Loo Pork, you will need a few key ingredients. The main ingredient is pork, which can be either pork belly or pork shoulder butt. Lean pork loin can also be used, but it is not as tender and juicy as the other two cuts. Other ingredients include onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and pineapple.

To make the marinade, you will need white pepper powder, Shaoxing Chinese rice wine, and other spices of your choice. The pork is marinated in this mixture for at least half an hour to absorb the flavors. The batter for the pork is made from egg white, corn flour, and self-raising flour. Tapioca flour can also be used as a substitute.

Once the pork is marinated, it is coated in the batter and deep-fried until golden brown. The vegetables are then stir-fried in a wok with some oil before adding the sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is made from a combination of sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, and other seasonings. Once the sauce thickens, the fried pork pieces are added to the wok and tossed with the sauce and vegetables.

How To Make Koo Loo Pork At Home

Making Koo Loo Pork at home is easier than you might think. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create this delicious dish:


– 1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

– 1 small onion, peeled and chopped

– 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

– 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

– 1/2 cup rice flour

– 1/2 cup sweet potato starch (or substitute with 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)

– 2 eggs

– 1 teaspoon garlic powder

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– Vegetable oil for frying

For the sauce:

– 1/4 cup sugar

– 1/4 cup ketchup

– 1/4 cup rice vinegar

– 1 tablespoon soy sauce

– 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water


1. In a bowl, mix the pork with garlic powder and salt. Let it marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, mix rice flour and sweet potato starch (or rice flour and all-purpose flour).

3. Beat the eggs in another bowl.

4. Dip the marinated pork in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, and then back into the flour mixture.

5. Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet or wok.

6. Deep fry the coated pork pieces until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

7. In a separate wok or pan, heat some oil over high heat.

8. Add the chopped onion and stir-fry for a few seconds until fragrant.

9. Add the chopped bell peppers and stir-fry until just tender.

10. Mix together the sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, and soy sauce to make the sauce.

11. Pour the sauce into the wok with the vegetables and bring to a boil.

12. Add in the fried pork pieces and toss until well coated with sauce.

13. Add in the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce.

14. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

This recipe is easy to customize by adding your favorite vegetables or adjusting the seasoning to your liking. With this guide, you can now make Koo Loo Pork at home and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills!

Tips And Tricks For Perfecting Your Koo Loo Pork

If you want to make the perfect Koo Loo Pork, there are a few tips and tricks that you should keep in mind. Here are some of the most important ones:

1. Marinate the pork: Marinating the pork in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch for at least 30 minutes will help to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor.

2. Use the right cut of pork: Pork shoulder or pork belly are the best cuts of meat for Koo Loo Pork because they have a good balance of fat and meat. If you use leaner cuts like pork loin or tenderloin, the meat may become tough and dry.

3. Coat the pork in flour and cornstarch: To achieve a crispy coating on the pork, you should first coat it in flour, then in cornstarch. This will create a light and airy batter that will fry up crispy and golden brown.

4. Double fry the pork: Double frying is the secret to achieving ultra-crispy, less greasy fried food. Fry the pork at a lower temperature first to cook it through, then fry it again at a higher temperature to make it crispy.

5. Don’t overcrowd the pan: When frying the pork, be sure not to overcrowd the pan. This will cause the temperature of the oil to drop, resulting in soggy, greasy pork.

6. Use a wire rack: After frying the pork, place it on a wire rack to drain excess oil. This will help to keep it crispy and prevent it from becoming soggy.

7. Use fresh ingredients for the sauce: To make a flavorful sweet and sour sauce, use fresh ingredients like ginger, garlic, and pineapple juice. Avoid using pre-made sauces or canned pineapple, as they can contain additives and preservatives that can affect the taste of your dish.

By following these tips and tricks, you can make a delicious and authentic Koo Loo Pork that will impress your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients or techniques to find your own perfect recipe!

Variations And Adaptations Of Koo Loo Pork In Different Regions

Koo Loo Pork is a dish that has gained popularity not only in China but also in different regions around the world. As the dish has traveled, it has undergone changes and adaptations to suit local tastes and preferences. In some regions, the sauce may be spicier, while in others, it may be less sweet. In some areas, the pork may be replaced with chicken or shrimp, and the vegetables used may vary depending on what is locally available.

In Hong Kong, where Koo Loo Pork is believed to have originated, the dish is often served with pineapple and green bell peppers. The pineapple adds a sweet and tangy flavor that complements the sauce, while the bell peppers provide a crunchy texture. In other regions of China, such as Sichuan province, the dish may be spicier and include Sichuan peppercorns for added heat.

In Western countries, Koo Loo Pork is often served in Chinese restaurants as a staple dish. However, it may be adapted to suit local tastes by using ingredients such as honey or barbecue sauce in place of traditional sweet and sour sauce. In some cases, the dish may even be breaded and deep-fried to make it more similar to American-style fried chicken.

As demand for pork continues to grow in different regions of the world, Koo Loo Pork will likely continue to evolve and adapt to suit local tastes and preferences. While the dish may look and taste different depending on where it is served, its core ingredients and flavors will remain a beloved part of Cantonese cuisine.

Pairing Koo Loo Pork With Other Chinese Dishes

Pairing Koo Loo Pork with other Chinese dishes can be a great way to create a well-rounded meal. If you’re looking for a dish to pair with Koo Loo Pork, there are many options to choose from. One popular choice is Moo Shu Pork, which is also a sweet and savory dish that features tender strips of pork stir-fried with an array of bright veggies and earthy shiitake mushrooms. This dish is quick and easy to make, and it can be served together with Koo Loo Pork to create a delicious and satisfying meal.

Another great option for pairing with Koo Loo Pork is Chop Suey. This stir-fry dish is made from meat, eggs, and thinly sliced vegetables in a light sauce. It’s often made with pork, although some varieties may contain chicken, beef, or tofu. Like Koo Loo Pork, Chop Suey is a healthier choice because it’s made from a protein source and vegetables.

If you’re looking for a wine to pair with your Koo Loo Pork dish, fragrant white wines and lighter reds are the best options. Rieslings with a 2-4 sweetness level (out of 10) pair well with dishes like Szechuan Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, and Sweet and Sour Chicken or Shrimp. French Beaujolais is also a great choice for pairing with beef dishes like Beef in Oyster Sauce or Beef with Broccoli.