Cantonese roast meat is known as char siu. Char siu is the Cantonese name, while cha shao is the Mandarin version. Char siu is made by marinating pork in a sweet BBQ sauce and roasting it.
The sweetness of char siu developed over time in Chinatown noodle shops and roast meat restaurants around the world. There are now a lot of eateries that don’t use as many spices as in the past.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-make char siu recipe, go no further than this one. It has a salty/sweet contrast and a hint of spice that perfectly complements the pork, allowing it to stand on its own with just some rice and choy sum.
When it comes to creating Chinese BBQ pork char siu, the fattier pieces like pork shoulder/pork butt are best because they are the most flavorful. Other cuts, including lean boneless pork loin, can also be used.
- 3 pounds of boneless pork shoulder/butt
- 3 cloves of finely minced garlic
- ¼ cup of granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons of maltose or honey
- 1 tablespoon of hot water
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 teaspoons of molasses
- ½ teaspoon of five spice powder
- ½ teaspoon of sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon of white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon of red food coloring
- Cut the pork into long strips or chunks about 2 to 3 inches wide is best. Trimming fat will reduce flavor, so leave it on.
- A few drops of food coloring added to the marinade before refrigerating for at least an hour is recommended if you plan to use it.
- You’ll want to save around 2 tablespoons of the marinade for later. In a large basin or baking dish, combine the pork with the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate any remaining marinade.
- A rack in the upper third of the oven should be preheated to 475 degrees Fahrenheit (246 degrees Celsius) for baking.
- Amazingly, oven temperatures can vary widely, depending on the make and model, the location within the oven, and even the method used to initiate and maintain heating. Double-checking the oven temperature with a thermometer is an excellent way to ensure that your food is cooked correctly.
- Regardless, keep an eye on the temperature of your char siu every 10 minutes and adjust it as necessary.
- Place a metal rack on top of a sheet pan that has been lined with aluminum foil. Like those used in professional ovens, metal racks keep pig off the pan, allowing it to roast more evenly. As much room as possible should be left between the pig slices on the rack before cooking. In the pan under the rack, add 1 12 cups of water. That way, there will be no burning or smoking from drips.
- Place the meat in the oven and heat it through. For the first ten minutes of roasting, keep your oven at 475 degrees Fahrenheit; then, drop the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for 25 minutes (190 C).
- Flip the pork over and continue cooking for an additional 25 minutes. Another cup of water might be added if the pan’s bottom appears dry. The pan should be rotated 180 degrees to provide an equal roasting process. Another 15 minutes of roasting is all that is needed. Check your char siu frequently (every 10 minutes) during roasting and lower the oven temperature if it appears burning!
- In the meantime, combine the marinade with the maltose or honey and 1 tablespoon of boiling water in a separate bowl. The pig will be basted with this sauce.
- It’s time to baste the pork after 40 minutes of roasting time. Flip it over and baste the other side. For the final ten minutes of cooking, reduce the heat to medium-low.
- At this point, the pork has been simmering for 50 minutes. It should be cooked all the way through with a golden-brown crust. The broiler can be turned on for a few minutes to crisp the outside and add some color and taste if you choose. Keep an eye on the char siu BBQ sauce while cooking because it can burn easily.
- Pork can also be checked using a meat thermometer to see if it has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the meat from the oven and brush it with the remaining BBQ sauce in the pan. After 10 minutes of resting, slice the meat and enjoy!