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Tangcu Paigu (Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs)

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“On our very first night in Kunming, December 2000, our colleagues took us out for dinner at the Baiyun Canting on Jinhuapu Road. The tangcu paigu we had that night (and on many subsequent occasions) were incredible. I don't know the Baiyun secret, but now that Baiyun is gone, I'm making my peace with this tasty version, developed with the help of Bruce Cost's "Asian Ingredients" and "Pei Mei's Chinese Cookbook".”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 14 lbs pork baby back ribs, cut into one-inch segments (get this done at the meat counter)
  • 12 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, shredded (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chinese black vinegar (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 3 T cold water (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
  • peanut oil, for deep-frying


  1. Separate the ribs if the butcher hasn't already done so. They should be roughly bite-size.
  2. Marinate ribs with wine and soy sauce for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove ribs from marinade, reserving marinade for later.
  4. Heat peanut oil (about 6 cups) in wok until it's almost smoking.
  5. Deep fry ribs for 2 minutes, remove from oil with slotted spoon, reheat oil, and fry for another 1/2 minute until brown. (This is Pei Mei's method. Bruce Cost recommends deep-frying for 5-8 minutes.) Remove ribs from oil.
  6. Pour oil out of wok into a heatproof bowl (stainless steel or glass). (Once it's cool, you can strain it into glass jar for next time).
  7. To soy sauce marinade, add sugar, vinegar, corn starch mixture, sesame oil, and green onion to make sweet-sour sauce.
  8. Heat one tablespoon of oil in the wok, pour in the sweet-sour sauce, and boil and stir until thickened.
  9. Throw ribs into the wok with the sauce, and stir to coat thoroughly.
  10. Serve on a platter, hot or at room temperature.
  11. As the sole meat dish, this is enough for 2-3 people, but as part of a full meal with a variety of dishes, it serves up to 8 or 10.

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