Chinese Barbecued Pork (Char Siu)

Being constantly underwhelmed with the Char Siu I get in Thailand, and having been taken to a fantastic restaurant in Hong Kong that serves one of the best Char Siu I have ever had, I was curious about how to make it myself at home. My quest here is to make a tender, slightly chewy pork but has a deliciously sweet and aromatic flavour, with just the right amount of tiny bit of fat on the pork.

So here is a recipe I got from the book The Best International Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated. If some of the ingredients here seem slightly unauthentic, it is because this has been adapted for the home cook in the US. In Asia of course, we can find ingredients like red bean curd here so you can use that instead of the ketchup used in this recipe.

Also, traditional recipe would call for both dark and light soy sauce, but here we settle for just regular soy sauce which apparently does not make a big difference from using light and dark.

Chinese Barbecued Pork (Char Siu)

By November 7, 2012

If you don't have a wire rack that fits inside a rimmed baking sheet, substitute a broiler pan, although the meat may not darken as much. Do not use a drawer broiler in step 5 because the heat source will be too close to the meat and will burn the glaze.

Instead, increase the oven temperature in step 5 to 500 degrees and cook the pork for 8 to 12 minutes before glazing, then about 6 to 8 minutes once the glaze has been applied (on both sides).

  • Prep Time : 45 minutes
  • Cook Time : 1h 30 min
  • Yield : 6 servings



1. Using a fork, prick the pork 10 to 12 times on each side, and place in a large zipper-lock bag. Whisk the sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, five-spice powder and pepper together in a medium bowl. Measure out 1/2 cup of the marinade and reserve separately. Pour the remaining marinade into the bag with the pork. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours, flipping the bag occasionally to ensure that the pork marinates evenly.

2. While the meat marinates, combine the ketchup and honey with the reserved 1/2 cup marinade in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until syrupy and measures about 1 cup, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil, set a wire rack on the sheet, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray.

4. Remove the pork from the marinade, letting any excess drip off, and place on the wire rack. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminium foil, crimping the edges tightly to seal. Roast the pork for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to roast the pork until the edges begin to brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

5. Turn the oven to broil and broil the pork, leaving it on the same oven rack, until evenly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Being careful of the hot juices in the pan bottom, remove the pan from the oven, brush the pork with half of the glaze, then continue to broil until the meat is deep a mahogany colour, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Using tongs, flip the meat over and continue to broil until the second side is evenly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Being careful of the hot juices in the pan bottom, remove the pan from the oven, brush the pork with the remaining glaze, then continue to broil until the meat is a deep mahogany colour, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes, before cutting the meat into thin strips and serving.

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