Monday, June 4, 2012

Char Siu (Chinese Barbecued Pork)

Dang. I've been a crappy food blogger! Sorry for not posting over the past week, but it's been a doozy of a week. BUT, it's a new week, a new month, and (HOLD THE PHONE), a new post!

Char siu is a chinese pork dish, literally translating to "fork burn/roast". Traditionally, char siu is made by skewering long strips of seasoning pork on a long fork, then roasting over an open flame.

Typically using cuts such as the loin or belly, char siu is juicy and fatty. I prefer a leaner char siu, so I use pork shoulder roasts instead (Boston Butt). Most commercial char siu uses a premade seasoning packet, often colored with a bright red dye - this is why some restaurant char siu will have an unnatural pink or red color.

The pork shoulder roast I'm using in this post is a boneless one that I picked up from the newly-opened Earth Fare here in town. They only stock items free from the ingredients that are listed on their ban list, including HFCS, hormones/antibiotics and artificial flavors/ingredients.

My version of char siu doesn't have the food dye, nor is it roasted over an open flame; in this version, simply marinate the meat, bake until done, then broil to char the outside. 

Char Sui (Chinese Barbecued Pork)
adapted from Wandering Chopsticks

1 3lb pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt)
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 tsp salt

Combine the soy sauce, ketchup, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, honey, brown sugar, sesame oil, five-spice powder and salt. Cover the pork with this mixture and let marinate for 4-6 hours.

I cut my pork roast down into a few smaller pieces; this will make it cook more quickly without drying out, plus make it much easier for me to slice later. I also removed the 'fat pad', as there was plenty of fat marbled within the meat.

Remove the pork from the marinate, letting any excess marinade drip off. Save this marinade for basting - you can also bring the leftover marinade to a boil/simmer and use it as a sauce later.

Bake the marinated pork in a shallow pan in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, Turn the pork over, baste with marinade, and bake for another 45-60 minutes or until done.

Once done (the internal temperature should be 150-155 degrees), broil the pork just to get the outside crisp and charred, keeping a close eye on the meat to prevent burning.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut into thin slices.


  1. OK, not to jumble traditions indiscriminately, but I would totally use this in lettuce wraps, like the ones they usually make with chicken.

  2. how hilarious! i found your site b/c of the pinterest 'how to' recondition skillets....and i saw this post. i have a pork belly marinating right now so i can make this tomorrow! and i would use this for lettuce wraps too - what a great idea!

  3. I *do* have a recipe for a copycat of those lettuce wraps from PF Changs, and I bet the char siu WOULD be good in it! Might have to try that...

    1. wow i have been looking for a recipe like this that I got in a Chinese ? place i ate at in LA red food dye huh? lol wouldn't have thought that, going right now to check out your version of PF Changs lettuce wraps I have one too wonder if I got it from YOU??? by the way, I got here also because of the reconditioning of the cast iron skillets, I have my mom's and use them quite often except I know they aren't "seasoned" correctly because everything sticks, still doesn't stop me from using them. So from the pics they sit out in the sun? if so gotta wait till summer 22 degrees here today in Indiana...thanks Julia loving your site

    2. Slingy, I haven't posted my recipe for the lettuce wraps yet.

      The skillets do NOT sit out in the sun; I simply photographed everything outside on the driveway for better light - I kept the bags in my garage. Temperature should NOT be a factor, so you can do the restoration at any time!

  4. I really love Chinese food and have been to Beijing a few times, just fo the food. In Sweden, you can almost never find good Chinese food, so you have to learn how to cook it yourself or go to Beijing. I did the two of them. :)

    But this, I have never done but I am a big fan of pork belly so I just have to try cooking this dish.

    Regarding Arthur the dog, yes everyone's following the news about him. My friend works at the Swedish customers and she's the one that took care of him when he arrived. It's an amazing story - the best Christmas gift a person can get, na ka.

    1. Here, with 2 exceptions, most Chinese food is American-ized. Covered in thick, sticky sweet sauces and almost always heavy and fried. I like to make the foods I like myself, because then I know what went into the meal!

      I love the Arthur story - it's big news, even here!