History of goloyok

It really bothers me the Chinese ALWAYS translate the name of their dishes. It is as if they feel obliged to explain themselves, while the Japanese just present “unagi” as “unagi”, not grilled eel, and the Koreans insist “kimchi” is “kimchi” not fermented cabbage.
Goloyok is a case in point.

The fact that it has been translated into ’sweet and sour pork’ is revealing about the then cultural subservience of the Chinese race, and even more of the inferior culinary skills of the initial Cantonese migrants.
Goloyok 咕噜肉 is a pure Cantonese dish, it was not known at all in other Chinese cuisines. Its ingredients betray a fairly recent history – foreign ingredients that only the busiest port in the South China Sea could provide. Tomatoes, pineapple and bellpeppers were all foreign products from the Americas. The Cantonese very quickly took to tomatoes and made them into a sauce, that is still pronounced today in Cantonese throughout the world: “ketchup” 茄汁

One of the first Cantonese dishes to use this newfound sauce was goloyok.

So what does the name Goloyok mean?
In Cantonese, ’yok’ 肉 means ‘meat’. ’Golo’ is an onomatopoeia, a sound that one supposedly makes when one is salivating. There are two theories to this strange name:

One is that when a general was first served this dish, he loved the smell so much that he could not stop salivating. The other theory is that the word ’golo’ 咕噜 is actually a misrepresentation of the original name which sounds the same ‘古老’ : ’ancient’. Which infers this is actually an ’ancient recipe’.

My theory is that the fact that the pork was fried, could actually mean that the meat was ‘old’ not the recipe. It could be that the frying plus the strong sauce was used to mask the taste of the old meat. But the name changed over time because the salivating noise was funnier and more interesting appellation, as the dish gained popularity.

But of course, this incredibly interesting piece of history has been lost in translation, if only the Cantonese migrants had more cultural self-confidence!

To make matters worse, this recipe has been bastardized beyond recognition in the west. Such that the pork was sometimes not deep fried, or not double fried, and certainly not crispy. The pepper has to be crunchy and fresh when served, not limpy and overcooked. In my recipe, just like in the traditional version, the pork is fried twice. The idea is not to cook the pork in the sauce, and the pork has to remain crispy even after it has touched the sauce.


  • 150g pork shoulder
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 small pineapple (or a can of it, drained)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 200ml tomato ketchup
  • 3 heap tbs plain flour
  • 3 heap tbs potato flour
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Garnishing: 1 stalk spring onion, chopped

Serving: 2 persons


  1. Wash and cut your pork into 3x3cm cubes. Marinate with light soy sauce for 15 minutes.
  2. Peel and cut your pineapple into slices. Clean your bell peppers of the seeds and cut into thick slices. Set both aside.
  3. Heat up your frying oil in a frying pot to around 150 degrees.
  4. Mix your flour in a bowl. Dip your pork in eggwhite, piece by piece, coat them lightly in the flour and fry them.
  5. Once done, let them to air for 30 min. Make sure they are spread out so they do not go soggy.
  6. Fry them again by dipping them again in eggwhite, then in the flour. Set aside and keep them warm in a oven at 70 degrees celsius.
  7. In a wok, heat up two tbs of oil, very quickly stir in your sugar and tomato ketchup. Once the sauce thickens, add your bellpeppers and pineapple. The idea is to not let them turn soft just warm them up.
  8. Please your double fried pork in a serving dish and pour your sauce over them. Garnish with spring onion and serve immediately.

Goloyok is the original name for the ubiquitous Cantonese Chinese dish – sweet and sour pork. This recipe is authentic as it gets, and I will explain why even though most foreigners know the dish, they have never tasted its original form, nor do they know the real name of the dish.