Shanghai-Style Sweet and Sour Pork

Shanghai-Style Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs

Easy Shanghai-Style Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs. The familiarity of childhood is often the best inspiration, even if asking about the recipe yields the most confusing answers. But don’t worry, I figured it out for you in this easy Shanghai Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs recipe, come and try it out!

I have a conundrum: every time I ask how to make something my relatives serve up, I’m given a blank look. If I’m lucky, I’m brought into the kitchen and am shown the process. But when asked for measurements, another blank look that slowly morphs into an affronted look that equates to “measuring? Why would we measure?” If anyone’s seen the meme that compares different cooking instructions, the Chinese definitely subscribe to “add [blank ingredient] until you feel your ancestors tell you to stop”.

What does this mean for poor Curiosity when she moved out and wanted to eat dishes from her childhood? Well, sometimes I stand behind the cook and just note down the ingredients that go in and start experimenting with ratios at home till I get something I’m happy with. Sometimes I turn to google and hope for the best. There have been many frustrated days of looking at each other when a dish doesn’t work out. Then we sit there, analyzing and dissecting the plate in front of us. What’s missing? Is there too much of something? Too little? How off base was I?

These Shanghai Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs are something I grew up eating. I have a father who is very proud of our Shanghainese heritage and is very delighted he found my mom (who is from a different part of Shanghai) in Canada. He likes to tell people my brother and I are full-fledged Shanghainese, I’m not sure where all this pride come from, but that’s Curiosity papa for you.

Anyway, I grew up eating these ribs in restaurants and have always wondered if it was possible to make them at home. Thankfully I had an aunt who was willing to teach me. As in she sent me pictures of the ingredients she used then gave me vague measurements (thank you!!) and I got to work. I made it the first time with her ratios, served it up to the NSSSO and eagerly waited for the result. He looked at me and said “close”. Let the frustrations and experimentation begin. Eventually, after a few tries, and a lot of ribs, I hit the mark.

This recipe is surprisingly easy. I remember calling my aunt and asking her how and she scoffed at me and said something this easy doesn’t need a recipe but if I really wanted, she would send me the recipe. I basically grew up thinking all Chinese dishes were complicated in nature, so her recipe surprised me.

As per always, if you lay out your ingredients first, the recipe will go a lot quicker and easier.


We begin with rinsing the ribs and cutting them into individual ribs. After you’re done, set that aside.

Grab a large pot and add water soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, Shao Hsing wine (Chinese cooking wine), dark soy sauce and rock sugar. Now, turn the heat up to medium-high and melt the sugar.

Adding liquid ingredients and rock sugar to pot

Once the sugar is all melted (or almost all of it is melted) put in the ribs and make sure they’re evenly covered. Put the lid on and bring everything to a boil.

Simmer sugar until melted
Cook ribs

Once it is boiling, remove the lid and lower the heat to a simmer. This is why this recipe is super easy. Leave it alone to simmer for 45 minutes. Check on it every once in a while, making sure to stir it to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

After simmering for 45 minutes, this is where I try to skim as much of the oil off the top as possible. It’s completely optional of course. But afterwards, this is pretty much a done deal. Et voila, easy shanghai Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs, ready for your enjoyment.

Shanghai-Style Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs

Recipe by Curiosity to the OvenCourse: Chinese, Dinner, Easy MealDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking Time




  • 450 ml Water

  • 125 ml Soy Sauce

  • 175 ml Chinese Black Vinegar

  • 75 ml Shao Hsing (Chinese Cooking Wine)

  • 1 TBSP Dark Soy Sauce

  • 210 g Rock Sugar

  • 2 lb Pork Ribs


  • Rinse 2lb pork ribs with cool water before sectioning off individual ribs. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, add 450 ml water, 125 ml soy sauce, 175 ml Chinese black vinegar, 75 ml Shao Hsing (Chinese cooking wine), one (1) TBSP dark soy sauce, and 210 g rock sugar. Turn heat to medium-high and melt sugar.
  • Once sugar is melted, add ribs to the pot and spread till the pork is even covered by the liquid, cover with lid, and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, remove lid and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from pot and serve hot.

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