Sweet and Sour Pork, Fujian-style. There’s a bunch of different Sweet & Sour Pork dishes spread across China, but this Fujianese sort might be our personal favorite.

0:00 – Introduction
0:20 – What is Fujian food?
1:28 – Fujian vinegars
1:56 – Unstuffed Homestyle lychee pork
5:35 – Stuffed Banquet lychee pork
8:46 – Other approaches in Fujian?

As always, written recipe is also over here on /r/CasualChina if you prefer:

Recipe: Lychee Pork, a Fujianese Sweet & Sour (荔枝肉) from CasualChina


1. Pound the shavings in a mortar, then add water and transfer to a bowl

2. Let it sit in the fridge for at least a few hours, or up to overnight. The starch will settle on the bottom

3. Pour out the liquid on top, and the remainder is some starch-water that you can use from slurries and the like.

You can also choose to sun dry what you have left over to obtain a powder.


* Potatoes, 300g

* Pork loin (外脊肉), 325g.

* Marinade: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/8 tsp white pepper powder (白胡椒粉), 1/2 tsp liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine (料酒/绍酒)

* For coating: 45g cornstarch (生粉) mixed with 35g water, plus 1tbsp more water to coat

* For the sauce: 25g rice vinegar, 25g sugar, 50g water/stock, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder (鸡粉)

* Aromatics: 1 minced garlic clove, white part of two scallions cut into ~2 inch sections

* Slurry of 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (生粉) mixed with equal amount water

* 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (麻油) to finish

Optional julienned carrots for garnish.


1. Cut the potatoes into about 1 in x 1 in x 1.5 in chunks. Rinse with water, then soak until you’re ready to fry.

2. Mince the garlic, chop the scallion, mix your sauce and slurry.

3. Slice the pork into ~0.5cm slices, then briefly pound it with the back of your knife. Make some *very* shallow cuts in a criss cross pattern, then cut it at a ~30 degree angle to get something triangular-ish. Mix together with the marinade, set it aside.

4. Mix together the coating, so that you have a sort of oobleck mixture. Add in to the pork. Give a rough mix, then add in another tbsp of water to loosen it up. Mix well.

5. Shape the pork into a ‘ball-ish’ shape by pulling one vertex to the center, then pinching another on top. Wrap the remainder up and over the top, then slightly pinch the sides to get a ball (sort of).

6. Deep fry the pork once at 130C for 3 minutes. Then fry again at 195C for 15 seconds.

7. Remove the potatoes, dry off with paper towel. Fry the potatoes once at 130C for 5 minutes, then again at 195C for 30 seconds.

8. To stir fry – longyau, then add in the minced garlic. Quick mix, turn your flame on to high, add in the scallion white, fry for ~15 seconds. Add in the sauce. Fry on high until it’s bubbling rapidly, stirring often, ~30 seconds, then hit it with the slurry. Brief mix, potatoes & pork in, another brief mix. Heat off, drizzle in the toasted sesame oil, out, garnish with julienned carrots.


* Pork loin (外脊肉), 325g.

* Marinade: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/8 tsp white pepper powder (白胡椒粉), 1/2 tsp liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine (料酒/绍酒)

* Water chestnuts, 12.

* For coating: 60g cornstarch (生粉) mixed with 60g water, plus optional 1/2 tbsp of red yeast rice (红曲), pounded -or- 1/2 drop of red velvet coloring

* For the sauce: 5g hongzao red rice wine lees (红糟) -or- 5g liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine (料酒/绍酒) + 1 drop of red velvet, 20g rice vinegar, 20g sugar, 40g water/stock, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder (鸡粉)

* Slurry of 1 tsp cornstarch (生粉) mixed with equal amount water

* 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (麻油) to finish


I’m running out of room here, so do click into the Reddit post for the full step by step instructions:

Recipe: Lychee Pork, a Fujianese Sweet & Sour (荔枝肉) from CasualChina

Huge thank you to My Name is Andong for providing the clip at 0:25. It’s in his Peruvian Chifa video, here: https://youtu.be/clAO-gMdE2o

Peruvian Chinese also has an interesting Fujian connection. AFAIK, Peru’s Chinese population came via the Philippines, which was predominantly Hokkien (south Fujian).

And check out our Patreon if you’d like to support the project!

Outro Music: คิดถึงคุณจัง by ธานินทร์ อินทรเทพ
Found via My Analog Journal (great channel): https://youtu.be/GHaL5H-VYRg​


38 thoughts on “The Sweet & Sour you've (probably) never heard of”

  1. Hey guys, a few notes:

    1. So I hope that I made it clear enough in the video that the Fujian — > American-style takeout connection is more of a… hypothesis? It’s just the feeling of going to a neighborhood restaurant in North Fujian feels and smells like a takeout joint in a way that’s a little difficult to describe. I do think that a big part of it is that corner of China’s love of everything sweet and sour.

    2. Someone over on our Patreon was asking if we could expand on what we felt like some of the ‘philosophical similarities’ we felt were, because they had the same sort of feeling eating Fujianese food in the Philippines (where they’re from). To articulate what’s currently in our brains, we’d say that the similarities are (1) lots of deep frying (2) lots of thick sauces (3) lots of sweet and sour. We didn’t expand on that in the video, because at this stage we just plain don’t have a very deep understanding of Fujian food, so didn’t want to paint it with too broad of a brush. A note like this can be edited away if I put my foot in my mouth, but videos are written with permanent marker 🙂

    3. That’s of course not to say that everything in Fujian fits those… criteria. For example, probably the most famous food in Fuzhou is their fishballs, which’re these baseball sized balls of deliciousness stuffed with beef. Also, Hokkien food (i.e. the food of south Fujian) seems to be a bit lighter/almost closer to Teochew (Chaozhou) cuisine.

    4. But, of course, the Fuzhou population in the United States only started to balloon in the 1980s, after the re-establishment of diplomatic ties. So while there was certainly some immigrants that came from Fujian before the exclusion act, in the 19th century most immigrants in the United States/elsewhere in the west came from Guangdong, particular the Sze Yup counties like Toishan.

    5. So if there actually is a Fujian — > takeout connection, my best guess is that it’s probably via Taiwan. There was a large wave of Taiwanese immigrants in the United States in the 1970s, and certain takeout dishes (e.g. General Tsos) were developed during that time. This is also likely when Hot & Sour soup was introduced – the takeout version likely coming via Taiwan. A large chunk of Taiwan’s population is Hokkien (south Fujian) or Hokchew (north Fujian) or Hakka (west Fujian), and the island’s cuisine can sort of be thought of as a fusion of a number of different Chinese cuisines (together with some unique home grown dishes, of course). That said, we know even less about Taiwanese cuisine than we do about Fujianese – it’s sort of impossible for Steph to travel there because of stupid… laws.

    6. Another possibility is that perhaps historically Cantonese food might have resembled something closer to what modern Fuzhou food is like, but in Guangdong changed over the years as cuisines tend to do. Or, last possibility – maybe we’re just over thinking this, and takeout food was takeout food because saucy sugary deep fried meat just… sells well.

    7. In the video, for those Chinese speakers that are tripped up by the ‘xiangcu’ (香醋) we mention in the vinegar section… yup, it’s a different xiangcu, promise. For the unaware, that’s also a common name for Zhenjiang (Chinkiang) vinegar.

    8. We didn’t add aromatics in the fancier version basically for looks. If you don’t care, a bit of garlic or scallion whites might be nice – you could even crush them instead of mincing them so that the sauce remains smooth.

    9. The name ‘lychee pork’ obviously refers to the dish sort of looking like a lychee. I’ve seen a couple fancy restaurants include lychee in the dish, but in our personal opinion there’s better ways to enjoy lychee than smothering it in sweet and sour.

    10. Lastly, a habit we want to try to get into… if you're in Fuzhou, check out the restaurant 安泰社区食堂 that we grabbed footage of, it's quite delicious. Dianping link: http://www.dianping.com/shop/k4G2iZkZMEiAQgXZ Order their fried liver… I (Chris) am not even the biggest liver fan, and it's the best non-Foie Gras liver dish I've ever had in my life.

    That’s all I can think of for now. Will edit this with more notes, maybe/probably.

  2. This might never be seen since I'm late to watching this video but I have a tip for shaving the water chestnuts – try using a **melon baller**. You can get them in all kinds of sizes. It would make the process of making a ball a one scoop affair instead of spending minutes shaving down each ball.

  3. glad to see the love for fried potato is world wide 🙂 love the channel, such fantastic insights. love from ireland! (you may find "boxty" interesting, potato dumplings that are cut up and fried)

  4. More Fujian dishes! I am completely taken by the lychee pork balls. I haven’t watched your videos for a while and I’m so happy to be back to learn from your excellent ideas and recipes!

  5. idk about the rest of the peeps here but in singapore this stuff is semi common. While not all chinese takeout places have it i know of a couple that offer lychee pork. Tastes amazing btw.

  6. Thanks for featuring this classic Fujian dish! There is a whole world of home style Fuzhou cooking that is very unique and not often exposed to the public because they either require very fresh seafood that can only be procured around Fujian (like mantis shrimp, clams, oysters or “water fish” I’m not sure the exact name…). Much of home style FJ cooking is very clear and clean. There is a dish that my mom makes that can be described as tiny mochis in either salty or sweet broth. You are right on the vinegar, we love putting vinegar in wonton soup and other dishes. Sometimes meat would be simply cooked and dipped in fish sauce but that is too homey and rustic for restaurants. Anyway, I do love the deep fried FJ snacks as well, such as the oyster pancakes someone else mentioned and the taro triangle cakes. I’m really enjoying your channel and how educational it is. Keep up the good work!

  7. Thanks for making! My grandparents are from Fujian, and my grandma would make a bootleg version of this with ketchup, pork, and potato. She would always call it "Li3 Ji1 Rou4" and I never understood because it wasn't chicken… Now I'm thinking she might have been saying "lychee" in Fujianese. Will definitely try out this recipe!

    My grandma also has talked about a similar batter for fried eel using red yeast rice lees. You would need fresh red yeast rice lees still with the rice wine and mix with cornstarch until you got the "newtonian" consistency, fry, then season with salt. Eel pieces would curl up.

    I love cooking eggplant and napa cabbage with the same exact homestyle sauce ratio you use. I will often wilt the cabbage/eggplant first in a wok, then add oil to stir fry slightly, then add sauce to slowly simmer – adding cornstarch at the very end.

  8. Not sure what this is called, but in Malaysia the only deep fried pork with sweet & sour sauce dish we have is Gou Lou Yok. It should ring some bells but I'm completely ignorant of the history of this dish.

  9. This is extremely interesting. In my hometown, there was a restaurant that had a lot of very experimental dishes. Strawberry emu, and oysters with asparagus, that kind of thing. The owner would hang around and talk to the guests at the restaurant, and he'd always recommend the Lychee Pork. It was like sweet and sour pork, but in a very light sauce, I'd guess primarily white sugar, salt, lychee juice, and white vinegar, boiled to thicken rather than thickened with starch. It had strips of candied peppers, and lychees. Kwan was extremely proud of it, so I usually got it whenever I brought someone new there. These ones are so different. I wonder if he always made it that way, or if he changed it for a small town United States pallet. It's not like anyone there knew was a lychee was, so I don't think he added them because people expected them.

  10. My family is also from Fuzhou. Instead of the red coloring base, my mom would use strawberry jello powder to get the red color and slight sweet flavor, it’s different but I think it still tastes good 😛

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