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Meat dishes

24. Chinese sweet and sour mince balls

how to cook beef mince ball in sweet and sour sauce Chinese recipe
Chinese sweet and sour mince balls


This is another Chinese meat dish I like to make and eat from time to time. It does take a little bit time to prepare, but not too long though, and it is still considered as a ‘homey’ dish, as in restaurants you can usually find a more complicated,  fancier version of it. :)

Chinese sweet and sour mince balls

This dish is called  ‘Tang Cu Wan Zi’  in Chinese, which literally means  ‘sugar and vinegar balls’. In English, however, it is normally translated as ‘sweet and sour meat balls’. If you have read my previous post , you may already know that vinegar and sugar constitute the essence of sweet an sour taste. In Chinese, we often name dishes according to the ingredients they  contain, rather than according to their final taste!

As I also mentioned in a previous post, a round shape (referred to as  ‘tuan yuan’ in Chinese) often represents family reunion. Hence, dishes like ‘Mid Autumn Day’. In my ethnic group, mince balls are almost a ‘must have’ for every important occasion.

I remember I used to help my auntie to roll the mince balls for Chinese new year meals, it was such an important thing. Making the mince balls look beautiful was very time consuming, as we had to roll them by hand.

In this recipe, however,
I use a much simpler technique that I learnt from my dad. Making the mince balls this way is much quicker and, although the end result is not as beautiful, it is still very presentable even if you have guests over.  And the taste not any less nice !!

As for the ‘sauce’, it is very similar to ‘Guo Bao Rou’/ Vinegar and sugar Crispy beef.

Here you go.

The recipe: Sweet and sour mince balls


Beef mince (275gm maybe) (I use lean beef mince, but pork or even chicken mince both would do the job. Do not use lamb mince, though. I tried vegetarian meat free mince as well, it is also good, or you can get the vegetarian meat free balls, just fry it first).

Carrot(it is optional, I use it for the colour of the dish).

Chinese mince ballsChinese recipe: mince balls

Oil, salt, soy sauce, corn flour (for thickening the sauce), rice vinegar, and white sugar, plain flour, egg, sesame oil (optional), spice water or five spice (thirteen spice) powder , ginger, spring onion, cooking wine.


1) Place the mince into a mix bowl, break an egg into it, then add in 2/3 teaspoon of salt, around 3 tablespoons of oil (if you use extra lean beef, add a bit more oil), 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of spice powder or couple of tablespoon of spice water, a few drops of sesame oil, half cup of plain flour, then mix everything together into a nice paste (add more if your ‘paste’ is too thin).

2) Slice one carrot and one spring onion and a small piece of ginger.

3) In a small bowl, mix couple of corn flour with water.

Cooking the meat balls


1) In a wok or deep fry pan, pour in oil, let the oil hot.

2) Shape each mince ball by placing a big spoon of prepared mince into one hand, and squeeze the mince mix, let the mince mix come out in between the thumb and index finger, and use chopstick or spoon to pick it up, then put into the oil to fry. (Sorry I didn’t take pictures during this process, as both my hands were occupied, but take it when next time making it.)

3)Keep on doing this until finish all the mince mix. Watch over the frying pan, don’t burn the mince ball.

(Until the surface of the mince ball gets crispy, remove them from the oil.)

Chinese recipe: mince ballsChinese meat balls

Mixing with the sauce:

1) In a wok, pour in 2 tablespoon of oil (keep the fire high).

2) Put sliced spring onion and ginger in, when the smell raises up, then add the sliced carrot in.

Stir frying the onion, ginger and carrots

3) Stir the carrot for couple of minutes, then add in 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of cooking wine, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, mix everything well in the wok.
Pour in the corn flour mix in (stir again before pouring in, as corn flour could sink to the bottom of the bowl quickly).

3)When the sauce starts bubbling up, re-put the fried mince balls into the wok, then TURN OFF the fire, quick stir the mince ball with the sauce, and remove everything to a plate. (It is good to turn off the fire at this point to avoid the surface of the mince balls getting too soft and losing its crispiness.

Sweet and sour meat balls
Sweet and sour mince balls

It is good to eat immediately, before the mince balls get too soft. Have it with boiled rice, beer or red wine. :))

Hope this adds in a little big more colour on your weekend dining table.:))

Related posts:

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96. Chinese lamb recipe: Dry cooked crispy lamb -- Shao yangrou
100. A typical Northeast Chinese dish: “mess stew” with beef, tomato, aubergine and potato
Northeast Chinese shao mai (II)


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