Char siu is a popular way to flavor and cook pork in Cantonese cuisine. Typically marinated in a combination of spices for many hours, the pork is roasted in indirect heat until crisp and caramelized on the outside. The indirect heat allows it to crisp on the outside while remaining juicy and tender on the inside. Incredibly easy to make, you can make this Cantonese specialty in the comfort of your own kitchen. Many recipes call for pork loin, but I prefer pork shoulder for it’s fat content. The fat is the best part IMO, as it adds extra flavor and tenderness to the meat. Crispy, juicy, chewy, fatty deliciousness…mmmm.
When made in the traditional fashion, red bean curd or red food coloring is used to give the meat that red flavor commonly seen in Chinese restaurants. I prefer to let the natural colors of the roasted meat come through. However, if you are looking for that red color, add a tbsp. of red food coloring or red bean curd (red fermented tofu).
Let’s Get Cooking
Cut the pork butt into 2″ by 8″ strips. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the pork strips and mix to evenly coat with the marinade. Place in the fridge for 24-48 hours for maximum flavor. I do not recommend marinating for less than 24 hours as the flavor of the pork will be less intense.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove pork from marinade and place on a rack over a baking sheet (line with aluminum for easier cleanup). To prevent smoking (see my comments below), add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan – make sure the water does not touch the pork. Reserve marinade for basting.
Cook for 15 minutes. Remove and flip the pork over. Baste with remaining sauce and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove and baste again. Cook for an additional 5 minutes on each side. I recommend using fans or opening a window because the sugar in the marinade has a tendency to smoke at higher temperatures (or use the water method I mentioned earlier….). It MAY be possible that I set off the fire alarm to our whole building when cooking this last time, however, I’ll never admit to anything!
The internal temperature of the pork should be 145 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes.
Slice and serve. Great in soups, noodles, rice, or just served alone. There are endless options!
How do you like to serve char siu? Do you prefer it have a red color like in restaurants? What fat content do you prefer?