"You should use garlic with pork and ginger with beef and never vice versa."

This is coming from my dad who says that fact has been handed down from generations and generations of Chinese cooking. He says if I mix it (i.e. cook pork with ginger and beef with garlic), there will be an unpleasant taste. Maybe he's just exaggerating, I'm not sure. Do you think there is any truth to this saying?

  • 4
    I've certainly never seen this in print; it sounds like some strange family tradition to me.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 15:47
  • 11
    maybe it is just that Dad doesn't like it any other way ...
    – Debbie A
    Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 16:19
  • No, not true. Garlic should be used with everything, pretty much. Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 21:20

6 Answers 6


Whether or not it's a good idea is subjective, but the Chinese seem to break that rule a lot! For example, Northeastern Chinese sweet and sour pork (guō bāo ròu) is characterized by an intense ginger flavor. The Sichuan classic twice cooked pork (huí guō ròu) calls for boiling the pork with ginger. A common condiment for beef dishes/sauces is black bean garlic paste (蒜蓉豆豉酱). Perhaps this saying is associated with a specific Chinese regional cuisine?


Whenever I see never I feel uneasy and want to try it anyway :)

Beef + garlic works very well. It's often used in middle eastern and Japanese cuisine for example. Pork and ginger is a common combination in Chinese cooking.


I guess its up to your personal preference, there are a lot of beef dishes with garlic and one good example is beef and broccoli also with pork most of the Asian stir fries uses pork and ginger and they do taste great.


It's a myth - look at the number of steakhouses that serve steaks with garlic butter sauces/dressings.


I am surprised seeing this too. It has been eons since my Dad used to tell me a lot of about NOT using ginger on pork, but garlic on both is not bad.

It's all about ginger and pork having a chemical reaction that is bad on the aspect of the yin/yang balance in the body as my dad explained it. It releases a certain chemical as well that when your immunity is low, could trigger some conditions adverse to health. From that info, never use ginger on pork dishes too.

My dad was born in the 30s, so I assume that his wisdom on this emanated from older generations handed down to him as well by a long line of cooks from our family.

Uses of ginger in pork dishes could be regional, or maybe the younger generations making the infamous NorthEastern sweet and sour pork FORGOT that the ginger in that dish wasn't raw when added in cooking but rather already in a commercially available ready-made sauce that that HAS the ginger in it already. IT IS IN THE SAUCE that was separately made. NOT cooked through with the PORK. Cooking the ginger with the pork is what releases what my Dad described as the culprit that needs to be avoided. Just to clarify. Hope I made some sense. This to me, as my Father passed on to me, I will retain in my future cooking wisdom. :-)


The pork marinade we use in our family even combines the two: one part each of sesame oil, soy sauce and sherry, equal amounts of ginger&garlic.

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