Barbecue/ Dinner Tonight/ Meat

Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu)

Love a deliciously sticky well-balanced combination of sweet and savoury? This fragrant and flavourful, oven roasted Char Siu pork dish is perfect with steamed rice and Asian greens.

One of the best things about Spring in North Queensland, is the abundance of Asian greens. But if you were to ask me what my favourite thing about gorgeous Asian greens is, the answer would very succinctly be, that they pair beautifully with pork.

I adore pork, but strangely enough, I don’t tend to find myself cooking it all that often. Perhaps that’s something I should work on. But when I do choose to put some pork on my fork, I often turn to this beautiful dish – Chinese Barbecue Pork or, ‘Char Siu’.

There are a million recipes for Char Siu in internet-land, and each and every one of them turns out a result different to the last. This is the one that I have found suits me the most, is one I have adapted over time to suit my own tastes, and is now my go-to. It’s not completely authentic or traditional (no red dye or fermented tofu here), but it’s mine just the same, and I love it.

So, a little bit about Char Siu. You know those sticky, crimson red lengths of pork hanging from hooks in the windows of many a Chinese barbecue shop? That’s Char Siu. The real deal Chinese version is generally cooked over coals, with the meat hanging from hooks, and it is just beautiful.

Traditionally, Char Siu is always red. This red colour is created by the use of dyes or red fermented tofu. Red fermented tofu (or bean curd), can usually be found at Asian grocery stores, but for my recipe, I simply substitute it with pantry staples such as hoisin, soy and oyster sauce. While it doesn’t produce the exact traditional flavour, nor the scarlet red colouring, it comes pretty spectacularly close.

Another rule around Char Siu is that it should strike a beautiful balance between sweet and salty. I use brown sugar and honey to sweeten the sauce in this recipe, but many people just use sugar (and lots of it). Go with what you like, but don’t compromise on sweetness. If it isn’t sweet, then it simply isn’t Char Siu. But if we’re talking sweet and sticky, I am pretty sure this recipe has those elements well and truly nailed.

Like most things I have recreated at home, I put effort into making my recipes simple, and this is no different. This one is so easy, and the results so delicious, that I have no doubt it will become a regular dish in your home too.

The cut of pork you make the Char Siu with comes completely down to personal preference. If you prefer a fattier dish, then go ahead and use a pork shoulder (just adjust your cook time accordingly). I use the leaner tenderloin as personally, I just find the succulence and tenderness to be on point, and it presents beautifully <—- totally instagrammable.

Allow yourself a good amount of marinade time for this one – I find it best to prepare the night before so the meat has had some time to rest in, and soak up all the beautiful, sweet, umami, velvety flavours of the ingredients. The marinade creates that penultimate, glossy, charred sauce coating that covers every square inch of the meat and is just incredible. It is where all the kapow flavour is concentrated and then once cooked, makes for a glaze that runs the world in all its reduced, caramelised glory.

I normally use an oven to cook my Char Siu, but next time I make this dish, I think I will give it a try over hot charcoals to add a little more of that authentic smokey flavour. If you beat me to it though, please drop me a line and let me know how it turns out!

My whole family just love this pork served really simply with rice and steamed pak choi as sides. The kids go mad for it and any leftovers are swiftly devoured for lunch the next when turned into gorgeous, crunchy and moreish Banh Mi. Check out my recipe for this here – I challenge you to stop at one.

Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu)

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By Nosh - An Eater's Manifesto Serves: 4
Prep Time: 45 minutes + minimum 3 hours marinating time Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Love a deliciously sticky well-balanced combination of sweet and savoury? This fragrant and flavourful, oven roasted Char Siu pork dish is perfect with steamed rice and Asian greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 kilogram pork tenderloin (2 x 500g strips)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 2cm knob ginger, peeled and grated

Instructions

1

Place all ingredients except the pork into a mixing bowl and combine well with a whisk.

2

Place the pork into a large ziplock freezer bag and pour over the marinade.

3

Ensuring the pork is well coated, place the back into the fridge and allow to marinade for a minimum of three hours, but preferably overnight.

4

To prepare for cooking remove pork from the fridge to allow to come to room temperature (see note) and preheat oven to 180C.

5

Place a roasting rack inside a large roasting tray and fill the tray with a little boiling water. Place the meat on the rack, ensuring that the water is not touching it (see note).

6

Meanwhile, pour excess marinade into a small saucepan and add two tablespoons of honey. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for five minutes. This can be used to baste your pork.

7

Place the pork in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, basting with the glaze every 10 minutes.

8

After 30 minutes, turn the oven to ‘grill’ on high heat and place the tray as high as possible under the elements. Cook for a further 12-15 minutes, basting the pork generously with the glaze every 3 – 5 minutes. Once browned and caramelised, remove the tray from the oven.

9

Allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and Asian greens.

Notes

Bringing your pork to room temperature before cooking helps it to cook more evenly throughout. This should take about half an hour. Be mindful of food safety and keep an eye on things- if you live in a hot climate, you may only need half this time. The water in the bottom of the pan creates a steam while cooking, helping to keep the meat above it moist.

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