Easy to prepare oven roasted Char Siu (Chinese Barbecue Pork). Deliciously sticky, sweet, and savory. Perfect with steamed rice or noodles.
Char Siu (Chinese Barbecue Pork) is one of the most popular and ubiquitous roast meat in Chinese cuisine. Most restaurants have them hanging in glass cases at the entrance to entice you. Diners often end up ordering a plate of this sticky, sweet, and savory meat to complement the rest of their meal. Others will order it to-go on their way out of the restaurant. A case of meat at the entrance may not be the best decor but it can certainly be a pretty effective selling strategy.
Red Colored Char Siu
When I was a kid, Char Siu was often found at the wet markets. Market version Char Siu tend to be leaner, drier, less sweet, and usually much redder in color. These were used mainly as an ingredient in fried rice and just about any noodle dish. The most popular was of course the char siu wonton noodles which always came with several slices of this red “rimmed” meat.
Good Char Siu should be moist with a sweet and salty taste combination. Unlike Roast Pork Belly (Siew Yoke), the meat should be relatively lean with just enough fat to keep it moist. The color can be slightly reddish if red fermented bean curd is used.
Sweet Sticky Glaze Char Siu
In the recipe below, I did not use red fermented bean curd. This version is more like the one I remember eating as a child from a corner coffee shop located opposite the cinema in Section 17, Petaling Jaya. This shop sold mainly roast duck and char siu rice. They were very popular and their char siu usually sold out during lunch time. The char siu was made with pork belly and the dark brown sticky glaze was quite sweet. It was delicious but a little on the fat side. As such, I decided to use a tender cut of pork shoulder instead. This cut of meat will give the roast pork a naturally pinkish color if it is not over cooked.
Maltose (Malt Sugar)
Maltose or malt sugar is the preferred sweetener used in making Char Siu to give it that characteristic shiny glaze. Over here in the US, maltose can be purchased at Chinese grocery stores. If you cannot find maltose, please use honey. There may be a slight difference in taste.
Similar Products Used in Making This Char Siu (Chinese Barbecue Pork)
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- Combine maltose, Shao Hsing cooking wine, hoisin sauce, five-spice powder, dark soy sauce, and ½ cup (120mwater in a small saucepan. Stir to dilute maltose. Bring marinade to a boil.
- Add minced garlic. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer until marinade is thick and syrupy. This should take about 10 minutes. Add sesame oil and allow marinade to cool completely.
- Place pork in a zip top plastic bag. Pour half the marinade into the bag. Press out as much air as possible and zip the bag. Allow pork to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.
- Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place a metal rack on the top.
- Remove pork from the refrigerator. Unzip the bag and transfer pork with a pair of tongs onto the metal rack. Roast pork in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove pork from the oven. Brush remaining marinade onto each strip of pork. Turn and brush the other side with more marinade. Return to the oven and continue to roast for another 15 minutes.
- Allow char siu to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.