The key ingredients in a Chinese sweet and sour sauce are sugar and vinegar. Brown or white sugar provides the sweetness, while rice wine or rice vinegar provides the sour element.
Other flavorings may include soy sauce, black vinegar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic and chilies. Many versions of Chinese sweet and sour sauce exist and vary depending on the dish or region. For example, ketchup and pineapple are common ingredients in Western-style Chinese sweet and sour sauce. Cantonese dishes featuring the sauce tend to be sweeter than those of other areas. Some popular sweet and sour dishes include sweet and sour pork, sweet and sour chicken, and sweet and sour spareribs. Many people use the sauce as a dipping sauce or as a component in stir-fries.