Char siu (chashao, cha siu or char siew) pork

Char siu (chashao, cha siu or char siew) pork

You see them in Chinese restaurants as strips of reddish meat suspended on hooks alongside roast duck. They’re called char siu pork — Chinese barbecued pork marinated in a special sauce and cooked in a special oven over live fire. The smoke and the marinade give char siu pork its distinct color and flavor. Sliced, it is often served as an appetizer. Chopped, it is a popular filling for steamed dumplings. Chopped char siu pork may also be added to fried rice.

In homes that aren’t equipped with the special oven for cooking char siu pork, a regular oven will do so long as the pork strips are allowed sufficient time to marinate. It is also important to glaze the pork after cooking and while still hot to give the surface a sticky glossy texture.

Pork shoulder is traditionally used for making char siu pork as the layers of fat help soften the meat and retain moisture. If, however, you prefer a really low-fat version, pork loin may be used.

Recipe: Char siu (chashao, cha siu or char siew) pork


  • 800 g. of pork shoulder or loin, cut into strips about 8 inches long and 3 inches at the thickest part

For the marinade :

  • 6 tbsps. of hoisin sauce
  • 6 tbsps. of light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsps. of sweet rice wine
  • 4 tbsps. of honey
  • 1 tsp. of five spice powder


  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade.
  2. In a container, arrange the pork strips in a single layer. Pour over the marinade. With your hands, work the marinade into the meat. Cover the container and keep overnight in the fridge, turning the meat every few hours.
  3. Preheat the oven at 350F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with non-stick paper. The pork is now coated with sticky marinade and to make sure that the meat does not stick to the baking sheet, it is best to use non-stick paper.
  5. Arrange the pork on the baking sheet and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Take the pork out of the oven and, while still hot, brush with more honey. Cool and slice into thin rings before serving.

Preparation time: 4 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6

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  1. mareza says

    yes we have been eating those hanging chicken and pork
    on our vacation last dec they are out of this world,bought
    12 cookbooks and have been reading them everyday before
    i go to sleep. maybe i’ll try this hanging in the oven,
    they kinda like to use the meat with fat on it , just don’t eat
    the fat.

  2. Melissa says

    Hi Connie,
    We are a big fan of Char Siu. When in Hong Kong or in the Philippines, it is always part of our order when we go to the chinese restaurant. Here in Dubai, frozen pork is available in some groceries but is not alowed to be served in majority of the restaurants. Char Siu is one of those dishes we just miss and crave for. We will try your recipe over the weekend. Just want to ask if it would make a big difference in taste if we do not add the rice wine?

  3. says

    Mareza, you can also cook the pork on a rack set on a pan of hot water.

    Melissa, ah, I can’t say because I’ve never tried omitting the rice wine. If it isn’t available, sherry can be substituted.

  4. says

    It’s like wet roasting. Like a baine marie (water bath) for baking cheesecakes. Not the same as steaming on the stove top because you’re looking for a combination of steam and dry heat.

  5. maria says

    thanks for the recipe. I’ve been curious about making it. The chinese bakeries here often have something called barbecue pork buns and it’s delicious. It’s baked in a soft yeast bread.

  6. beverly says

    i’m excited to try this out! Thanks so much for all your well written, nice photos and helpful recipes and tips. I’m having so much fun trying out your recipes :)

  7. She says

    Connie, when you say ‘cook the pork on a rack set on a pan of hot water’, you mean steam it? will it take long to cook if done that way? cause I don’t have an oven at home. =(

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