Char Siu

4.8 stars

Char Siu is a fragrant and delicious Chinese BBQ pork usually made using pork shoulder or pork belly. It is marinated in a homemade sauce for hours before being cooked over a charcoal grill. This is the ultimate Char Siu pork recipe to cook restaurant quality dish.

Preparation 360 mins
Cooking 40 mins

Side

Char Siew, Chinese Roasted BBQ Pork, 叉燒

Malaysian, Singaporean, Cantonese


Nutrition per Serving

370 kcal
20 g
19 g
32 g


Char siu or sometimes spelled as ‘char siew’ is a popular Chinese barbecued pork and is one of the most delicious meat dishes. Authentic char siu recipe uses particular pork cuts marinated with a mixture of sauces, condiments and aromatics. The meat is then glazed and roasted using the marinade which is the most important ingredient in resulting the perfect char siu pork. However, choosing the right pork cuts also plays an important role to the taste.

Char siu sauce or marinade

Char siu sauces can be bought off the shelves. This recipe provides you with a guide to making your own Chinese BBQ pork sauce. The base of the marinade is hoisin sauce, which is then mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, five-spice powder besides others.

Char siu without red food colouring

In many Hong Kong, Singaporean or Malaysian restaurants, char siu has a hint of redness to it. It comes from the red food colouring to give it a nice shade. The red tone causes the char siu to be reddish around the edges which are clearly visible when it is cut into slices. For a natural shade of the colouring, red fermented tofu is used instead in this recipe.

Which pork cut is best for char siu?

This depends on your preference. The best cut to use is the pork butt which is also known as Boston butt located on the back of the pig, just behind the head. Pork butt is popular for making char siu as it contains a good amount of marbled fats and connective tissues. When grilled or roasted slowly, the fats and connective tissues melt resulting in delicious flavours.

Pork belly, on the other hand, results in a more fatty char siu. However, if you are looking for leaner char siu, go for pork loin which has a lesser amount of fat.

Char siu over a charcoal grill or in the oven?

In this recipe, I used the oven to roast the char siu but it would be best if you could barbecue it over a charcoal fire. The smoky flavour would further enhance the taste of the meat.

For me, the best part of the char siu is the edges that are slightly charred during the roasting process. These make the meat more fragrant. As it roasts in the oven, it absorbs the honey mixture creating a layer of sweet and savoury coating on the meat, thus making it lip-smacking good.

You may also use a ‘S’ shaped metal hook sold in hardware stores to hang the pieces of char siu in the oven.

‘Halal’ chicken char siu

Instead of using pork, you can use chicken in this recipe. In fact, we've had someone from the community who made this recipe with chicken to sell in his local Ramadan bazaar. For a halal version, omit the wine from the recipe.

Chicken char siu feedback
Chicken char siu feedback

The best dishes with char siu

Char siu may be eaten as it is or together with wonton noodles or rice. Enjoy this dish with some pickled chillies or chilli garam if you need a spicy dip.


Ingredients

Servings:  
1 tbsp
water
1 tbsp
honey
1 tbsp
soy sauce
2 tbsp
hoisin sauce
1⁄2 tsp
sesame oil
1⁄2 tsp
five spice powder
1 tsp
rose wine
1 tsp
dark soy sauce
1
garlic clove(s)
1 cube
red tofu (fermented)
170 g
pork

Steps to Prepare

Char Siu Step 1

Step 1 of 4

    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
    • 1⁄2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1⁄2 tsp five spice powder
    • 1 tsp rose wine
    • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
    • 1 garlic clove(s)
    • 1 cube red tofu (fermented)

Mix honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, five spice powder, rose wine and dark soy sauce. Then, add the sauce mixture into a pan. Cook at low heat until sauce thickens. Add fermented tofu and crushed garlic to the marinade. Mix well.

Char Siu Step 2

Step 2 of 4

    • 170 g pork

Lightly poke the pork shoulder using a fork. Place pork in a bowl or a zip lock bag and add the marinade. Make sure that the pork is evenly coated. Leave pork to marinate overnight.

Char Siu Step 3

Step 3 of 4

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Place marinated pork on a tray and cover with a piece of aluminium foil. Remove the aluminium foil after 15 minutes and glaze the pork with the excess marinade.

Char Siu Step 4

Step 4 of 4

Increase heat to 250 degrees Celsius and let the pork cook for 15 minutes. Glaze the pork again and let it cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes. When cooked, cut char siu into slices before serving.

Published: November 25, 2013


3 Discussions

a year ago

Denise

I kinda improvised since I had to make my own hoisin sauce and only had belly pork , but the recipe and method really helped with timings etc to get the flavours.

7 months ago

Pei Jin Lim

Authentic taste, easy to follow recipe!

4 months ago

dorian khoo

Wow.. Just made for 1st time ever more of less following this guideline.. SOOOO good !!!!

Give us your opinion! Log in and start posting.