Char Siu PorkJump to Recipe
Char siu pork is a fan favourite and definitely one of the more known recipes from Chinese cuisine. Keep reading for an authentic char siu recipe!
So what is char siu pork exactly?
Char siu is a type of Cantonese roast meat. It gets its name from the traditional cooking method, char meaning ‘fork’ and siu meaning ‘to burn/roast’. Long strips of boneless pork marinated in sweet BBQ sauce and then they are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire.
What discerns good char siu pork from bad char siu pork is the depth of its flavour. The contrast between the sweet and salty notes in the BBQ sauce and a hint of spice that compliments the pork lets the dish stand alone as a main or blend into other recipes.
The quality of the pork also plays an important role in its flavour. A variety of pork cuts are used to make it with a few are more common than others such as pork loin, belly, shoulder and neck.
Using pork belly to make char siu pork produces a juicier and fatty char siu, whereas using pork shoulder gives you a leaner char siu.
If making it at home isn’t for you, char siu pork can be bought in noodle shops and roast meat restaurants in your local Chinatown.
The best char siu pork is definitely made at home though. Many restaurants skimp out on the spices in their char siu pork recipes.
Char Siu Pork Recipe
- 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp five-spice powder
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp molasses
- ⅛ tsp red food colouring optional
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp water
- Prep your pork by cutting it into long strips or chunks about 3 inches thick. Don’t worry about trimming off excess fat as it will render off and add flavour to your char siu pork.
- Mince the cloves of garlic finely to add to the marinade in the next step.
- To make the marinade combine the sugar, salt, five-spice powder, white pepper, sesame oil, rice wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, molasses, food colouring (if using), and garlic in a bowl.
- Save about 2 tablespoons of the marinade for later. Rub the slices of with the rest of the marinade in a large bowl. Then cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. Cover and store the reserved marinade in the fridge as well.Tip: The longer your marinate your pork, the better your char siu will turn out! The recommended marinating time is 24 to 48 hours.
- After the pork has marinated for 24 hours, get your oven ready by preheating it to the highest temperature. This should be about 475 °F to 550°F.
- Line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal rack on top. Using a metal rack will keep the pork off the pan and help it cook more evenly. Pour 1 ½ cups water into the pan below the rack to prevent any drippings from burning or smoking.
- Once the oven reaches the desired temperature, place the pork on the top rack and roast for 25 minutes. Flip and turn the pan 180 degrees before roasting for another 15 minutes. If the bottom of the pan is dry, add another cup of water.
- While the pork is still roasting, combine the reserved marinade with the honey and 1 tablespoon of hot water. This will be the sauce you’ll use for basting the pork.
- Once the pork has been roasting for a total time of 40 minutes, baste it, flip and baste the other side as well. Roast for a final 10 minutes.
- When the entire 50 minutes are up, check to see if the pork is cooked through and caramelized on top. If it’s not caramelized to your liking, place it back in for a couple more minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it since the sweet char siu BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended.
- Remove from the oven and baste with the last bit of reserved BBQ sauce. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Plate and enjoy!