How To Make Char Siu Pork
This char siu pork is juicy, tender, tasty and melt-in-the-mouth! Also known as Chinese bbq pork, this delicious takeaway classic is a combination of delicious sweet and savoury flavours.
This Char Siu smothered in Chinese BBQ sauce is not just my favourite takeaway meal—it’s my ultimate food obsession ever to exist!
I mean, we’re talking about a sauce so sweet, sticky and salty that you’ll end up licking the plate clean, and I won’t judge you for it—it happens to the best of us!
The texture is tender and the sauce is full of so much flavour. You’re going to be shocked when you find out how I make this!
What Is Char Siu Pork?
Char Siu Pork is a popular Chinese takeaway dish consisting of pork (usually pork shoulder) marinated in a Chinese bbq sauce and roasted in the oven until caramelised.
It’s known for its shiny glaze and distinctive red outer coating. The char siu sauce is used to marinate the pork and baste the pork whilst it’s roasting in the oven.
You can’t have Chinese takeaway without ordering Chinese bbq pork – it’s the unspoken rule!
Watch How To Make It
What Is Char Siu Sauce Made Of?
Char siu sauce is a tasty Chinese barbecue sauce used to marinate and glaze a variety of meats, especially pork, giving it a sweet, salty, caramelised and savoury flavour.
Typically Char Siu Sauce recipes include hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, shaoxing wine, Chinese 5 spice, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt and fermented bean curd (for a slight red appearance).
Char Siu Pork Recipe
Like traditional char siu pork, I used fermented bean curd to create the distinctive red colour. It’s not currently sold in many supermarkets, so I had to take a trip to my local Asian supermarket to find it.
If you don’t have fermented bean curd, red food colouring works just as well! Adding red food colouring to the char siu marinade creates a vibrant red tint.
I prefer adding both to achieve a vibrant red hue in the meat and also gain the additional flavour from the fermented bean curd.
Char Siu Pork Recipe Ingredients
Below are the ingredients needed for this recipe:
Pork: I prefer using pork shoulder as it’s the perfect cut of meat for making char siu. See below for more information on this.
Char Siu Sauce: Making your own char siu sauce is fairly easy but you can buy ready made char siu sauce to make this recipe even easier. Here’s my detailed Char Siu Sauce Recipe.
Honey: A few spoons of the char siu marinade is kept aside and mixed with honey. Whilst the pork is roasting, this mixture is brushed over the pork for extra flavour and for a caramelised glow.
Best Pork For Char Siu
Most recipes use pork shoulder to make char siu, it’s the perfect balance between fat and lean meat. Look for meat that is well marbled as the fat content helps to keep the meat moist and tender during the cooking process.
Alternative cuts of meat include pork neck, pork butt or even pork belly (though I find pork belly quite fatty).
When preparing the pork, I cut the pork shoulder into slices roughly 2 to 3 inches thick. If the slices are too thin or thick, then you won’t get the distinctive char siu look with a red outer-coating and a middle section of meat.
Recipes That Use Char Siu
Char siu is so good that there are many recipes that you can make with it. I find myself making the recipes below with any leftover char siu meat I have.
How To Make Char Siu Pork
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make this simple char siu bbq pork. Full recipe instructions are on the recipe card:
Cut the pork into long slices approximately 2 to 3 inches thick.
Use a fork to poke each side of the meat (this helps the pork absorb the marinade more effectively).
In a mixing bowl, thoroughly mix together all of the char siu sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved into the sauce mixture.
Pour the pork and 3/4 of the char siu marinade (keeping 2 to 3 tablespoons) into a ziplock bag or airtight container.
Massage or mix the marinade into the meat then leave it to marinate for up to 24 hours (or for at least 3 hours). I generally tend to marinade the mixture for around 12 to 15 hours overnight.
Preheat your oven to 160°C (140°C, gas mark 3) and line a roasting tray with foil or parchment paper.
Cook the char siu for 20 minutes on one side. Whilst the meat is roasting, mix together the remaining char siu marinade with 2 tablespoons of honey.
After 20 minutes, remove the pork from the oven and brush the basting mixture over the pork then turn it over, brush with the basting mixture and roast for another 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, base the mixture again on both sides (using all the remaining basting sauce) and roast for a final 10 minutes or until caramelised and sticky.
Leave the meat to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes then serve and enjoy!
What To Serve With Char Siu Pork
My Top Tips
For really moist and juicy pork, roast the pork above a tray of water. The steam generated by the water creates a humid environment and as the meat roasts, the steam from the water helps create a moist texture.
For an added bbq and smoky taste, instead of cooking the char siu pork in the oven, cook the pork over a coal bbq – the taste is absolutely insane!
Pricking the meat with a fork before marinating it helps the char siu sauce penetrate deeper into the meat.
If the meat is browning too quickly in the oven, cover the meat with a layer of foil to help reduce the rapid browning.
How To Store And Freeze
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
Char siu freezes really well in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to eat it, defrost the char siu in the fridge and reheat it in the oven or microwave.
I highly recommend not slicing the char siu if you intend to freeze it. This is because the meat retains much more juiciness and tenderness when reheating a whole log compared to individual slices.
Char siu pork has a distinctive red-brown colour which comes from the red fermented bean curd in the marinade. Some recipes use red food colouring which enhances the red hue.
Char siu is not spicy, it’s sweet and savoury with a little warmth coming from the minced ginger and garlic.
Generally, char siu that is 2 to 3 inches thick will cook for a total of 1 hour at a temperature of 160°C. Though this can vary depending on the size of meat and oven used.
More Chinese Takeaway Recipes
Love Chinese takeaway? Here are a few more Chinese takeaway dishes below:
- Special Chow Mein
- Salt And Pepper Ribs
- Panko Chicken
- Chinese Spare Ribs
- Crispy Chilli Chicken
- Sweet And Sour Chicken
- Honey Chilli Chicken
Char Siu Pork (Chinese BBQ Pork)
- 1.2 kg Pork Shoulder (See Notes For Alternatives)
Char Siu Marinade (Separate Recipe Link)
- 3 tbsp From The Char Siu Marinade
- 2 tbsp Honey
- Cut the pork into long slices approximately 2 to 3 inches thick.
- Use a fork to poke each side of the meat (this helps the pork absorb the marinade more effectively).
- In a mixing bowl, thoroughly mix together all of the char siu sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved into the sauce mixture.
- Pour the pork and 3/4 of the char siu marinade (keeping 2 to 3 tablespoons) into a ziplock bag or airtight container.
- Massage or mix the marinade into the meat then leave it to marinate for up to 24 hours (or for at least 3 hours).
Roasting & Basting
- Preheat your oven to 160°C (140°C, gas mark 3) and line a roasting tray with foil or parchment paper.
- After 20 minutes, remove the pork from the oven and brush the basting mixture over the pork then turn it over, brush with the basting mixture and roast for another 20 minutes.
- Base the mixture again on both sides (using all the remaining basting sauce) and roast for a final 10 minutes or until caramelised and sticky.
- Leave the meat to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes then serve and enjoy!
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