Sweet and Sour Ribs–Tang Cu Pai Gu

Sweet and Sour Rib (Tang Cu Pai Gu)is a quite popular dish in China. However, mostly people will eat it in restaurant rather than at home since it is not a simple task to control the ratio of sugar and vinegar.

Chinese sweet and sour ribs

Restrictively, spare ribs are selected as the main ingredients. The popularity is not only due to its delicious taste but also its beautiful color.You may wonder which cuisine this sweet and sour spare rib belongs to? In fact, there are different versions in different cuisines. But most commonly it is considered as Zhejiang Cuisine and Sichuan Cuisine.

Chinese sweet and sour ribs

Though the processes in different cuisines might be slightly different, the key point is similar—controlling the proportion of the condiments. My mother used to cook a typical Sichuan version of sweet and sour spare rib. Today I am introducing the most basic process.If you are familiar with Chinese cooking methods, I guess it should be a common sense to rinse the meat ingredients in boiling water to get rid of the blood water and smelly taste if some of they do have some.

Then the second import step is to marinade the cooked ribs. Why? That’s because we want to give the dish a nice color. The proportion of different types of condiments should be 1 tablespoon cooking wine, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce and half tablespoon dark soy sauce (different types of soy sauce have different functions) and then add 1 tablespoons of dark vinegar to marinade for about 20 minutes. This step will help to color the ribs and also flavor.

Chinese sweet and sour ribs

Then spare ribs should be deep-fried until the skin becomes a little bit crisp. This step is really important! Then add marinade sauce, 3 tablespoon of white sugar and half bowl of broth to simmer.Turn up the fire to reduce exceeded sauce. Then at the last, add half tablespoon of dark vinegar. There comes the sweet and sour taste.

Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serve: 3

Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Chinese Sweet and Sour Ribs have an excellent taste. This version is an simplied one that can be made at home easily.


  • 1 pound ribs
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 /2 cup of stock or water
  • salt as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sesame seed for garnishing
  • Spring onion for garnishing
  • Marinating sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce if you want to darken the color
  • 2-3 tablespoons vinegar


  1. Cut ribs into sections about 4 cm. Rinse in boiling water to get rid of blood water. And then cook the ribs in clean water for another 30 minutes.
  2. Move the cooked ribs out and marinade with 1 tablespoon of cooking wine, 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of vinegar for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Heat up oil in wok and fry marinated ribs until the color of skin changes and the skin becomes crispy.
  4. Discard exceeded oil. Add the left marinade sauce in wok and three tablespoons of sugar in to cook for 2 minutes. Add stock or water and salt; turn up the fire to thicken the sauce. Stir occasionally during the process.
  5. Transfer out and garnish white sesame seeds and chopped spring onions before serving.


Other rib recipes for your reference:

Braised ribs with winter gourd 


    • Elaine Luo says

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. This is not a usual dish for me too. But honestly I love it.

  1. says

    This looks AWESOME! Do you think it will work with pork belly? Also, just to clarify, in the post you talk about deep frying until crispy but in the recipe there is only a bit of oil used so is it just supposed to be pan fried? Or deep fried? Thank you!

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