Crispy Sweet and Sour Beef (or Pork) Recipe (Tangsuyuk)
This sweet and sour beef (or pork) is a Korean-Chinese recipe called Tangsuyuk. Tender and moist meat strips are coated with crispy batter, deep fried, then served with sweet and tangy sauce. Learn how to make this tasty Korean recipe here.
Most people think of sweet and sour dish with either chicken or pork. It’s one of the most popular Chinese dishes everywhere around the world. But, have you ever tried it with BEEF?
Koreans have adapted a famous Chinese (Cantonese) originated dish, 酸甜咕噜肉 (gu lou juk), into a unique Korean style. We call it Tangsuyuk, 糖醋肉 (탕수육).
Korean sweet and sour beef (or pork)
Korean sweet and sour recipe can involve variety types of protein–pork, chicken, beef, tofu, or fish. Along with Korean black bean noodles (Jajangmyeon) and Korean spicy seafood noodle soup (Jamppong), Tangsuyuk is one the most popular Korean-Chinese dishes sold in many restaurant.
The choice of meat (or other protein) is coated with the potato starch batter, then deep fried twice to ensure the crispiness. Simple and quick sweet and tangy glaze soon coats the meat or served as a side for dipping.
The addition of vegetables provides different textures and a colorful touch. It make the dish colorful and nutritious, too.
Although Korean sweet and sour pork is the most prominent tangsuyuk dish and widely available in many Korean-Chinese restaurants, sweet and sour beef is another popular option and it is unique to Korean cuisine.
Both beef or pork will work with this recipe. Also try with chicken, or even fish to create another great tasting sweet and sour dish.
This particular recipe made with beef is called 소고기 찹쌀 탕수육 (sogogi chapssal tangsuyook), which means it is made with beef and sweet rice flour. The addition of sweet rice flour (glutenous rice flour), makes the batter not only extra crispy but subtly chewy that is so pleasant.
Hope you can try this variation. You might prefer this over your ordinary sweet and sour pork (or chicken).
If you want it to be vegetarian or vegan sweet and sour recipe, try with tofu or shiitake mushroom. Both of them offer meaty and chewy texture.
Sweet and sour sauce (Tangsuyuk sauce)
The key to a successful sweet and sour sauce is finding a balance between the sweetness and sourness. And the consistency of the sauce is another important factor–not too thick nor too thin.
This recipe produces generally well-balanced sauce in terms of taste and consistency. However it is suited for my personal taste, so feel free to adjust according to your preference by adding or reducing the sauce ingredients.
Best beef tangsuyuk experience: I have tried this sweet and sour beef numerous times in Korea. Interestingly the best sweet and sour beef I had was in Hawaii, though.
When I visited my sister who lives in Aiea, Hawaii many years ago, she took me to one of her favorite place for Tangsuyook. I wish I can remember the name of that place. It was a teeny-tiny Korean style Chinese restaurant located right behind the building with full of Korean shops. Boy! was it good or what? Since then, I was converted to sweet and sour with BEEF!
How to make Korean sweet and sour beef
Choice of beef
Use a good quality tender cut of beef such as striploin, ribeye or sirloin. Slice thinly against grain.
Step 1. Season beef
Season beef with soy sauce, rice wine, ginger powder, and pepper. Then add the glutenous rice flour and toss. Set aside.
Step 2. Make coating batter
Use potato starch for the coating. It make crisp tender texture for the beef.
- You want to mix potato starch with water first, then let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (The longer, the better). The starch will sink and the water will float to the top.
- Drain the most water off from the starch and you will get paste-like pure starch which is called 앙금 (anggum in Korean) sitting in the bottom.
- Mix your beef with the potato starch paste and well beaten egg white. Your beef is ready to dive into hot frying oil.
Step 3. Deep-fry twice
Deep fry your beef. You will want to deep fry twice to get the crispy texture.
Some people might ask, “Can I bake them instead?”
My answer is, “No!” Baking method won’t work here.
Step 3. Mix tangsuyuk sauce
The sweet and sour sauce is simple to put together. Just mix all the ingredients together and set it aside.
Step 4. Finish off with veggies and sauce
Saute your vegetables in a tiny bit of oil for 60 seconds, then pour the sauce and the potato starch. The sauce will thicken very soon and turn into a glaze.
How to serve tangsuyuk (A good question!)
Ironically, this is actually a difficult subject to cover, LOL!
Serving method of tangsuyuk is still a hot topic among Koreans. The debate goes into; if you are “Pourer (bumeok, 부먹)” or “Dipper (jjickmeok, 찍먹)”.
Some people like to have their sauce to be poured on the meat, while the others prefer to have the sauce on the side to dip.
I am not sure which one you are. But for myself, I am a pourer since I grew up eating my tangsuyuk that way.
To be honest, I don’t think it really matters because whichever serving method you choose, it will be equally delicious.
Crispy Sweet and Sour Beef (or Pork) Recipe (Tangsuyuk)
- 1 lb beef striploin or sirloin, or use lean pork. See note below
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- dashes pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 4 tablespoon sweet rice flour (chapssal-garu), glutenous rice flour
- 3/4 cup potato starch
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
- oil for frying
- Mix potato starch and water in a bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer and you will see the starch sinking to the bottom and the water on top. Drain the most of water off the bowl. Now you have the paste-like potato starch.
- Meanwhile slice the beef very thinly against grain and put in a large mixing bowl. Season the beef with the soy sauce, salt, black pepper, ginger, and toss well. Sprinkle sweet rice flour over the beef and toss to coat them. Set aside.
- Beat the egg white until the soft peak forms. Add the potato starch paste and the beaten egg white to the beef; mix all together.
- Heat oil in a wok or a skillet over medium heat, drop the beef slices and deep fry until golden. You want to do this with small batches at a time. Transfer the beef to a plate lined with paper towel. When all the beef slices are fried, repeat the deep frying again for the second time. Deep frying twice will create crispier texture. Drain off the oil on the paper towel.
- For the sweet and sour sauce, combine water, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a small mixing bowl; mix well and set aside. Mix potato starch and water in a small cup and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat a couple of teaspoonful of oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the onion, pepper, and cucumber for 60 seconds. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and let it boil, about 30 seconds. Add the potato starch water to the skillet and let the sauce thicken, about 30-60 seconds.
- Place the beef on the serving plate. Either pour the sauce over the meat or serve the sauce on the side to dip. Serve immediately.