One of the things that I enjoy with my extended family is going out to a Korean-Chinese restaurant for jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce) or jambbong (spicy noodle soup). It's really fun to watch my 2-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew slurp down the black noodles. They also love the tangsuyuk (also spelled tangsooyuk) we always order to share as an appetizer.Tangsuyuk is a Chinese sweet and sour pork dish adapted for Korean taste. It can also be made with beef. It is another beloved Korean-Chinese dish like the two noodle dishes mentioned above. At home, I usually make this dish for special occasions, especially when my extended family gets together. Growing up, my mother made this dish with pork, and I used to do so as well. But, I now make it with beef because my sister-in-law does not eat pork. You can use any meat you want for this recipe. The potato starch used to make the batter is pre-soaked for several hours. This is a traditional method used to create a slightly chewy yet crispy crust. It is important to deep fry the meat twice for extra crispiness. The key to a successful sauce is the balance between the sweetness and tartness. My recipe produces a well-balanced sauce, but you can always adjust to your taste. The vegetables are not the star of the dish but add different textures and a colorful touch to the dish. It's easy to make, but the process goes very quickly. So, have all your kitchen equipment and ingredients ready before starting to cook. The result will be crispy deep-fried goodness in a delightfully sweet and tangy sauce!
2 - 4 servings as appetizer
10 ounces beef (sirloin or rib eye) or pork loin
salt and pepper
1 cup potato starch (or corn starch), soaked in 1 cup of water*
1 egg white
1 tablespoon canola oil
(*See below for more.)
4 cups canola or vegetable oil for deep frying
1/2 small carrot, cut into thin bite size slices
1/4 small onion, cut into bite size chunks
1/4 small green pepper, cut into bit size chunks
a few pineapple pieces
(Other options include cucumber, cabbage, mushrooms, peas, scallions, etc.)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Starch slurry - 1 tablespoon starch* in 2 tablespoons water
(*You can use 1/2 tablespoon more for a thicker sauce. Add 1 more tablespoon water as well.)
At least 2 - 3 hours before cooking this dish, combine 1 cup of the starch with 1 cup of water and refrigerate until ready to use. The starch and water will separate, and you will need to carefully pour out the water on top to use the soaked starch at the bottom.
Cut the beef (or pork) into 2 to 2.5-inch long strips (about 3/4-inch wide and 1/8-inch thick). Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let it sit until ready to deep fry.
Prepare the vegetables by cutting into thin bite size pieces.
In a pan, add 1 cup of water along with the remaining sauce ingredients except the starch slurry. Boil just until the sugar melts and turn off the heat. You will finish the sauce when the meat has been deep fried.
Carefully pour out the soaking water from the starch. Use your hand to mix the soaked starch with the egg white and oil. The starch will be very stiff. The addition of oil will help loosen it a little. Coat the meat with the starch batter.
Add 4 cups of oil to a deep fryer, wok or large pot. Heat over high heat to 350°F or until it starts smoking. (See more on how to check the oil temperature.) Using metal tongs or chopsticks, drop the meat in the oil one piece at a time. Do not crowd the oil. Cook until golden brown, about 1-1/2 minutes, in two or three batches, reheating the oil to 350°F between the batches. Remove them with a wire skimmer or a slotted spoon. Drain on a wire rack or in a large mesh strainer set on a bowl.
Reheat the oil to 350°F. Add the meat (you can do this in one batch for the second frying) and deep fry again for a minute until lightly golden brown. Drain on a wire rack or in a large mesh strainer set on a bowl.
Bring the sauce to a boil again. Add the carrot and onion pieces, which take longer to cook. When the sauce boils, add the starch slurry, stirring well. Taste the sauce and add a little more sugar or vinegar if desired. Turn the heat off, and then add the green pepper and pineapple pieces. The green vegetables such as green pepper (or cucumbers if used) lose their color quickly if boiled in the sauce.
Place the meat on a large serving plate and pour the sauce on top. Serve immediately with a dipping sauce.
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vinegar
pinch black pepper
pinch red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)