For all those times you’ve gazed longingly at the sticky, crimson red Char Siu hanging from hooks in the window of Chinese barbecue shops…… Chinese Barbecue Pork is finger licking’ good and you will be shocked how easy is it to make at home!
No trip to Chinatown here in Sydney is complete without taking home a container of Chinese barbecue pork. And I am yet to manage the drive all the way home without sneaking in a little taste test (or two…or three).
The damn traffic lights! If they were GREEN all the way home, then I wouldn’t have a chance to do that!
OK, that’s a blatant lie. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we both know I would be hooning over the Harbour Bridge, holding the steering wheel with one hand and rummaging around in the plastic carry bag with the other, blindly trying to feel my way to the barbecue pork container.😂
I first tried Char Siu Pork at home perhaps 10 years ago and the recipe I use has evolved over the years. Little tweaks to make it as close as I can to my favourite Chinese barbecue shop without having to make a trek to the Asian store to hunt down hard to find ingredients.
I am not exactly sure where I sourced the original recipe from – probably Gourmet Traveller magazine.
The real deal Chinese barbecue pork is cooked over charcoals, with the meat hanging on hooks. But for us ordinary folks, you can still make Chinese barbecue pork at home that tastes just like store bought, it just has less smokey flavour.
BEST PORK CUT FOR CHAR SIU
I finally managed to get a Chinese barbecue shop to tell me what cut of meat they use. Pork scotch fillet!! Also known as Pork Neck, Pork Collar or Pork Neck Collar.
It’s also terrific made with pork shoulder – I’d say just as good. Some people like to make it with pork belly but I find it too fatty for my taste.
I used to use pork tenderloin which is much leaner so you do need to be careful about overcooking, whilst still achieving that caramelisation – cook times for this cut are in the recipe notes.
Scotch fillet and shoulder are much easier to cook with – they require longer cook time to make the meat juicy which means incredible caramelisation.
As in – THIS:
That sight makes me weak in the knees, every time. 😂
As for how to serve it, here’s a very typical meal set served at Chinese BBQ shops: slices of pork over rice with a side of steamed greens with sauce (this Steamed Chinese Greens with Oyster Sauce is similar).
This recipe makes quite a lot because the standard size of pork scotch fillet roasts is around 1.2 – 1.5kg/2.4-3lb.
But you’ll thank me. Just one bite, and you’ll be thanking me profusely for making this a big-batch recipe. 😜 – Nagi xx
PS Leftovers – I continue to eat it for days, but also freeze excess. Char Siu is also used in Singapore Noodles, Chinese Fried Rice (also see Egg Fried Rice) and is also terrific served on Chinese Noodle Soup.
Your favourite Chinese barbecue pork made at home! Slow cooked so it's juicy on the inside with the most incredible sticky glaze, this is finger licking' good! Chicken version here, and recipe video below.
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar (white also ok)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (Note 1)
- 1 tsp five spice powder (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola) (Note 3)
- 2 tsp red food colouring , optional (Note 4)
- 1.2 - 1.5kg / 2.4 - 3lb pork scotch fillet (collar neck, pork neck) OR pork shoulder (Note 5)
- 2 tbsp Extra Honey
Mix Marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Cut pork in half horizontally to make two long, flat, thin pieces (better flavour penetration).
Place the pork and Marinade in a stain proof container or ziplock bag. Marinate 24 to 48 hours in the fridge (3 hours is the bare minimum).
Preheat oven to 160C/320F.
Line a tray with foil and place a rack on top (recommended but not critical).
Remove pork from the marinade, save Marinade. Place pork on rack.
Roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour reserved marinade in a saucepan. Mix Extra Honey into marinade. Bring to simmer over medium high and cook for 2 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat.
Remove pork from oven. Dab marinade all over, then turn. Baste then roast for a further 30 minutes.
Remove pork from oven. Brush with marinade again, then turn, brush with marinade and roast for a further 20 minutes. If charring too quickly, cover with foil.
Baste again on surface then bake for a further 10 minutes until caramelised and sticky. Meat should be tender but not falling apart, like with pulled pork. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serve with rice and steamed Chinese greens. See notes for more uses!
1. The light soy sauce adds a touch more salt to the marinade, the balance I like. But it's fine to use all light soy sauce or all ordinary soy sauce. Do not use dark soy sauce (flavour is too intense).
2. You can get Chinese five spice powder (a mix of spices) in the herb and spice section of supermarkets and it isn't any more expensive than other spices. You can substitute the Chinese five spice powder with 1 tbsp extra hoisin sauce BUT you should reduce the sugar to 1 tsp, otherwise it will be too sweet.
3. Or other neutral flavoured oil.
4. The red food colouring is to make the pork red, like you get at the Chinese barbecue shop. This is optional. Authentic Char Siu uses red bean curd for colouring and a touch of flavour - it can be found at Asian stores, use about 2 tbsp of the liquid and no red food colouring.
I use the marinade in this recipe more frequently than the authentic version because I can get all the ingredients at the supermarket and it has a slightly more intense flavour - makes up for absence of charcoal in this home version.
5. I used to make this with pork tenderloin (Note 6) but I've moved to scotch fillet roast (pictured in post) and pork shoulder because they are ideal for longer cooking to get amazing caramelisation and the pork is incredibly juicy inside. Scotch fillet is also known as Pork Neck, Pork Collar or Pork Neck Collar. This is what Chinese BBQ shops in Australia use.
Pork shoulder is also ideal - beautifully juicy. If using pork shoulder, using boneless, skinless and trim off most of the thick layer of fat on the surface. Then cut into long thin pieces, like pictured in post with the scotch fillet.
You want thin slices about 2.5cm/1" thick to get the best flavour penetration from the marinade.
Some people also make this using pork belly but I find that too oily for my taste for this particular recipe.
6. PORK TENDERLOIN cooking directions (photo here of how it looks): Roast at 180C/350F for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 - 160F/ 65 - 70C. Around halfway through roasting, baste generously with the reserved Marinade. Sort of dab it on so you get as much Marinade on the pork as possible - this is key for getting the thick, glossy glaze. Then flick to broiler/grill on high and broil for a few minutes until surface is charred and glossy, basting once or twice.
7. Leftovers – I continue to eat it for days, but also freeze excess. Char Siu is also used in Singapore Noodles, Chinese Fried Rice (also see Egg Fried Rice) and is also terrific served on Chinese Noodle Soup.
8. Nutrition per serving assuming 6 servings. This is overstated because it doesn't take into account the fat that is rendered out when cooking.
Originally published April 2015, updated May 2018. Major change is to change pork cut from tenderloin to scotch fillet/shoulder - this is a recipe improvement.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
Dozer went in for his ACL surgery this morning. He has to stay overnight, so this afternoon I headed over to the vet to drop off his favourite toy and a whole bunch of food for the wonderful team at Mona Vale Veterinary Clinic. #Shameless
And look!!! Not 30 minutes ago, the vet called to assure me he’s doing just fine and sent me this photo. ❤