I realize I’ve been posting a lot of dessert dishes. Since I don’t want you to think I only feed my family desserts (although my kids would love it), I thought I’d share a recipe for char siu or chinese BBQ. Char siu is a Cantonese way of preparing pork and literally means to “fork-roast”. Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and seen those delicious looking red colored strips of pork hanging up? That’s char siu and it’s prepared on those hooks and is “fork-roasted” over fire or in a large wood burning oven.
If you’ve never had char siu, it has a sweet and savory flavor. It’s one of my favorite ways to prepare pork. Traditional char siu is made with pork belly or pork butt – the more fatty cuts of pork. However, if you want to use a leaner cut of pork, you can use pork tenderloin. Keep in mind though, tenderloin isn’t as succulent as the fattier cuts of pork, but it works fine if you’re watching your figure. I use tenderloin because I have enough lumps and bumps as it is and I don’t need to add anymore 🙂
Okay, so you’re ready to make char siu, but you don’t have a large wood burning oven. No problem. You don’t have a lot of Asian condiments in your cabinet. No problem. The recipe can be simplified and it will still give you a nice char siu flavor. All the ingredients that are “optional” do not have to be included in the marinade if you can’t find it. I also opted not to use red food coloring, but you can add 1/2 tsp to the marinade if you want the red color. Just follow along below and you’ll be on your way to making some yummy char siu at home!
How to Make Char Siu in the Oven
Cut your tenderloin into long 1 inch wide strips. *I doubled the recipe in this photo*
Add in all of the sauce ingredients and massage it into the meat. Cover and place into the refrigerator for 4 – 6 hours to marinate.
Line a pan with foil to make clean up easier (I forgot to line mine). Place a wire rack into the pan and fill with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Then, place the pork strips onto the wire rack, reserving the marinade. Place the pan into a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, baste the meat with the reserved marinade and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
*If your pieces are slightly larger than 1 inch around, you may have to cook it a little longer. You want the internal temperature of the meat to reach 160F degrees.*
While the meat is cooking, place soy sauce, honey, and cornstarch in a pot. Bring to a boil and keep stirring until it becomes glossy and thick.
Ways to finish the Char Siu
There are three ways to finish off the meat:
- If you want a slightly crispy outside, remove the pan from the oven and baste the meat with the soy/honey mixture. Place the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. You want to broil it just long enough to see some charring. This is the method in the directions below.
- If you do not want a crispy outside, baste the meat with the soy/honey mixture and return to the oven for 5 minutes. I use this method if I am making char siu bao.
- If you prefer a more savory meat, skip the glaze and baste once more with the marinade and return the pork to the oven for 5 minutes.
**Most char siu recipes will use maltose for the glaze, but it’s hard to find if you don’t have access to a good Asian store. My glaze is a modified form so you can get a good thick glaze without maltose**
Once done, let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Char Siu Recipe
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs pork tenderloin cut into 1 inch strips
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 2T dark soy sauce (optional)
- 1/2 cup sugar (If you prefer a salty over sweet flavor, reduce this amount)
- 2T sherry or Chinese rose wine (I use sherry)
- 2T bean paste (optional)
- 2T hoisin
- 3-4 cloves of chopped garlic
- 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder (If marinating overnight, I suggest using 3/4 tsp. because this is a very strong seasoning)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup leftover marinade or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Cut pork into long 1 inch strips.
- Place into a container and add all of the marinade ingredients. Massage all the ingredients onto the pork.
- Cover the container and place it into the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. *You can leave this overnight*
- Heat oven to 350F degrees.
- Line a pan with foil and place a rack inside of the pan. Put just enough water in the pan to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Place pork strips onto the rack, reserving the marinade.
- Put the pan into the oven for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, baste the pork strips with the reserved marinade. Place back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
- If you have a seperate broiler, turn it on now.
- Start the glaze. Place all the glaze ingredients into a pot. Cook on medium high and constantly stir the glaze until it is glossy and thick. Set aside.
- When the 10 minutes are up, take the pork strips out of the oven and brush the glaze over the pork.
- Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until you see some charring.
- Remove from broiler and let the meat rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice strips and serve with rice or in a bowl of ramen (noodles).
Although this recipe is pretty flexible, if you would still like to use some of the “optional” ingredients, here are a few that are available on Amazon