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Gu Lao Rou {Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}

by Shirley
Gu Lao Rou {Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}

Gu Lao Rou {古老肉}, or sweet and sour pork with pineapple, is a traditional and well-liked Chinese food. It features juicy delicious pork and pineapple braised in tomato sauce. It is also one of the most popular Chinese restaurant takeout food items in the west. With this recipe, you can cook this mouthwatering dish in an easy and healthy way.

Gu Lao Rou {Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}

Gu Lao Rou {古老肉} Story

Gu Lao {古老} literally means ancient in Chinese, alluding to the long history of this beloved food. Sometimes people also refer Gu Lao Rou {古老肉} to Gu Lu Rou {咕噜肉}. Gu Lu {咕噜} is an onomatopoeia, which vividly depicts the unstoppable mouthwatering reaction to this yummy food.

Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple is a Cantonese delicacy. Traditionally, the pork is deep-fried. However, I use a unique method of marinating the pork first and then pan fry them in a hard-anodized fry pan to deliver this sensationally juicy and delicious pork.

pan fried pork in the fry pan

Ingredients for Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple

For pork, either pork sirloin, shoulder or butt will work. I use Shaoxing wine, naturally aged soy sauce {Jiang You 酱油 in Chinese} , Zhenjiang vinegar, and arrowroot flour to marinate the pork first to flavor and tenderize the pork.

As for the other key ingredient pineapple, get the fresh pineapple if you can. During the pineapple season, I cook this dish often for my family to take advantage of the abundant seasonal fresh pineapples.

Ingredients for Gu Lao Rou {Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}

Arrowroot flour is my go-to gluten-free, more nutritious starch. It is a superfood and works just like a typical starch.

A pinch of star anise and coriander seeds powder, along with a splash of light soy sauce, is for pan-frying the marinated bite-sized pork chunks.

For the tomato sauce used for braising, I use homemade tomato puree. It is so quick and easy to make at home. As a matter of fact, I freeze my tomato harvest and use frozen tomatoes to make the tomato puree.

It is perhaps the easiest and most versatile way of preserving your tomato harvest. Read here for more details.

homemade tomato puree {easy healthy way}
Homemade Tomato Puree for Sweet and Sour Pork
Gu Lao Rou {Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}

Gu Lao Rou {Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple} Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Gu Lao Rou {古老肉}, or sweet and sour pork with pineapple, is a traditional and well-liked Chinese food, featuring juicy delicious pork and pineapple braised in tomato sauce.


  • 1 lb pork, sirloin, shoulder, or butt
  • half pineapple, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tbsp sugar, turbinado sugar preferred

For Marinating the Pork:

  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Zhenjiang vinegar
  • 1 tsp cane sugar, organic unrefined preferred
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot flour

For Pan Fry the Pork:

  • 1 tsp canola oil, or alternative cooking oil
  • 1 stalk of green onion, chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger, about 10 g, minced, organic ginger preferred
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp star anise powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds powder, freshly ground

For Homemade Tomato Puree

  • 2 lb tomatoes, either frozen or fresh. Or 2 cups of tomato puree, non-salted


Make Homemade Tomato Puree in advance:

  • It takes about 10 minutes of active time. Read here for a detailed tutorial.
    strain cooked tomatoes

Marinate the Pork:

  • Cut the pork into bite-size cubes, make sure they are not overly thick.
    bite-szie pork chunks
  • Add them into a mixing bowl, add everything under "For Marinating the Pork", mix well using a pair of bamboo spatulas. Toss like you toss a salad. Set aside while you prepare pineapple and other ingredients.
    marinated bite-size pork chunks

Prepare Pineapple and other Ingredients:

  • Wash the pineapple and then slice the outer layer of skin off. To make it easy, I usually cut pineapple horizontally into halves first and then work on one half at a time. Sit the half pineapple on the cutting board, use the knife to peel/cut a portion of skin at a time until you've done the entire pineapple.
  • The pineapple core is hard and usually not edible. Cut the pineapple vertically first around the core and then cut across into bite-size cubes. Rinse the pineapple in salty water and set it aside.
    cubed fresh pineapple for sweet and sour pork {Gu Lao Rou} dish
  • Cut green onion into small pieces and mince ginger.
  • Add light soy sauce, star anise, and coriander seeds powder under "For Pan Fry Pork" in a small bowl and whisk well.

Pan Fry Marinated Pork:

Turn the heat to medium and heat a 12-inch hard anodized fry pan for 1 minute. Add 1 tsp canola oil and then ginger and most of the green onion. Save a little for the final garnishing. Spread out the pork and cook for 2 minutes.
Pan fry marinated bite-size pork chunks

Use a slotted turner to flip the pork and cook the other side for 2 minutes.

Pour the "Pan-Fry Sauce" from the small bowl over pork in a circular motion. Use a mini spatula to scrape clean the bowl if needed. Fold and stir fry the pork for another 6 minutes, or till pork is browned and cooked.
pan fried pork in the fry pan

Pour the tomato puree into the pan and add pineapple cubes and 2 tbsp turbinado sugar.
add tomato puree and pineapple into the pan with pork for making sweet and sour pork

Fold the sauce into pork and pineapple. Mix everything well, cover the pan with a lid and cook till it reaches a boil.
cooking Gu Lao Rou {sweet and sour pork with pineapple} in the pan

Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.. Then turn off the heat, use the slotted turner to fold, and mix everything.
freshly cooked sweet and sour pork with pineapple in the pan

All done! Sprinkle the remaining green onion pieces for garnishing. Enjoy a super yummy Gu Lao Rou. This dish is perfect to add to a bed of freshly steamed rice for a yummy meal.
Gu Lao Rou {Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}


  • You can add one green pepper or red pepper. If you do, cut the pepper into bite-size pieces and add to the pan 5 minutes before you wrap up cooking.
  • For coriander seeds powder, since it is easier to find organic whole seeds vs. powder, I usually get the seeds and use a spice grinder to grind them into powder.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 367Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 95mgSodium 1291mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 3gSugar 16gProtein 38g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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