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.
Char siu (chashao, cha siu or char siew) pork
- 800 grams pork shoulder or loin cut into strips about 8 inches long and 3 inches at the thickest part
- 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 6 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons sweet rice wine
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven at 350F.
- 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.
- Arrange the pork on the baking sheet and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Take the pork out of the oven and, while still hot, brush with more honey. Cool and slice into thin rings before serving.