When you take a stroll through any Chinatown in the world, you will find red strip of char siu hanging from hooks in the window. char siu mean “fork burned” which reference to the traditional preparation, skewered, and barbecued over a fire. The toasted barbecued pork is a class favorite in Cantonese cuisines. I have always wanted to k now how they make it. Growing up in Kansas City, char siu is hard to come by. When we go vacation and travel to other major cities with a Chinatown, we always bring back large quanityt of char siu. In the old days, you could carry on to the airplane large luggage. I remember when I was very young coming back from New York City, we carried on to the airplane half of a roast pig and large amount of char siu.
Growing up, I had tried a lot of char siu. A rewarding piece of barbeque pork will have a sticky sweet marinade with a nice amount of charredeness. The outer portion of the meat should be red and the inside should not be dry. Two main cut to use on the char siu is either pork belly or pork butt (shoulder). The ones you see at restaurants uses pork shoulder however, I think pork belly is much smoother.
~500g pork belly (sliced in half lengthways – reduces thickness and more of the marinade can be absorbed)
•4 cloves crushed garlic
•1 teaspoon ginger, finely diced/grated
•1 ½ peanut oil
Char Siu Marinade:
1 ½ tablespoon maltose
•1 ½ tablespoon honey
•1 ½ tablespoon hoisin sauce
•1 tablespoon light soy sauce
•½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
•1 teaspoon oyster sauce
•1 tablespoon Chinese rose wine
•10 white peppercorns, ground
•pinch of salt
•1 piece of wet/fermented bean curd (red)
•½ teaspoon five spice powder (optional)
•½ teaspoon sesame oil
•For colouring – 3 drop of red food coloring
1. Add all char siu marinade sauce ingredients together into a saucepan, heat it up and stir well until all blended together. Transfer into a bowl to cool (around 20 minutes).
2. Marinade pork with 2/3 of the char siu sauce and the garlic and ginger. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight, turning the pork a few times.
3. Preheat oven ~175C, roast the pork for 10 minutes then turn and baste in remaining marinade, roast for another 10 minutes and then turn and baste in remaining marinade again. Turn up oven to 200C and then roast for a further 15 minutes (turning up the heat at the final cooking stage provides charred texture to pork)
4. Serve it with rice, in noodle soup w/ wanton, or in fried rice. If you have access to steam pump, make an asian burger out of it.
Total roasting time = 35 minutes. Pork should have glazed red appearance and be slightly charred.
•Place aluminium foil sheet at the bottom of the oven for drips. If the remaining char sui marinade for basting is too tough when you take it out of the refrigerator, microwave it for 20 seconds to soften.
•Use the remaining char siu sauce to baste pork when roasting, if using char sui sauce which the pork has been marinated in to baste, simmer the marinade for 5-10 minutes to kill bacteria which may have been left by the raw meat.
•To make sure that the pork gets cooked through without too much charring on the surface, keep the heat down as the marinade contains high sugar content which burns fast.
•Baste at least twice to build up good layer of marinade on the pork for a crunchy/crispy, caramelised savoury and sugary outer coating to build up as it cooks. This also helps to keep the pork moist so that it doesn’t dry out during roasting.