Chinese-Style Barbecued Pork (Char Siu)

Chinese style barbecue pork

The Spruce

  • Total: 4 hrs
  • Prep: 3 hrs 15 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
317 Calories
17g Fat
9g Carbs
30g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 317
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 108mg 36%
Sodium 486mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 30g
Calcium 33mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This tasty and popular Cantonese pork dish, also called char siu, can be used in stir-fry dishes, served with noodles, or as a stuffing for pork buns. It is also a popular holiday dish. Char siu literally means "fork roasted" (siu means burn/roast and cha means fork). In Chinese restaurants all over the world, the spelling varies; you may see it on a menu as char siew, cha siu, or cha shao.

Typically, this dish calls for pork loin although you can use pork shoulder (butt). For a fatter and juicier variation, you can use pork belly.

A number of ingredients like hoisin sauce, Chinese five spice, soy sauce, honey, and more are combined for the 3-hour marinade in the fridge. You can add a touch of food coloring to give your barbecued pork the red coloring you commonly see hanging in restaurant windows in Chinatown.

Variations of this dish exist throughout Asia. You can easily add or subtract ingredients to give this dish your own individual stamp on it. For instance, in Japan, this dish is called chashu and is typically seasoned with honey and soy sauce; it is served in bowls of ramen soup and most of the other ingredients used in traditional Chinese cuisine are omitted.

Char siu has an amazing sticky glaze. You make think it comes from honey, and it can. But, usually, the glistening version that you see at your local Chinese restaurant is created by using maltose instead of honey. You can pick up a tub of maltose at most Chinese markets, but, if you can't get your hands on it, honey works just fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (shoulder or butt)
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled and mashed)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid honey
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • Optional: a few drops red food coloring

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for barbecue pork recipe
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  2. Cut the pork into strips approximately 2 inches wide and 5 inches long.

    Cut the pork into strips
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  3. Smash and peel the garlic, and mash it with a mortar and pestle or with a fork.

    Smash garlic
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  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice wine or sherry, hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, liquid honey, brown sugar, mashed garlic, and five-spice powder.

    Whisking rice wine
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  5. If using the red food coloring, add it now.

  6. Place the pork in a shallow 9-inch by 13-inch glass baking dish.

    Add food coloring
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  7. Pour the marinade over. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 hours.

    Place pork in baking dish
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  8. Remove the pork from the dish. Reserve the marinade.

    Reserve marinade
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  9. Preheat the oven (425 F for pork tenderloin, 350 F for shoulder or butt).

  10. Fill a shallow roasting pan with 1/2-inch of water and place in the bottom of the oven. Place the pork on a rack above the water.

    Place pork on a rack
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  11. Roast until golden brown, brushing 2 or 3 times with the reserved marinade (about 30 minutes total roasting time for a tenderloin, 45 minutes total roasting time for shoulder or butt). The internal temperature of the pork should be 160 F.

    Roast
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  12. Remove and cool.

    Remove and cool
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  13. When the pork is cool enough to handle, cut across the grain into 1/4-inch thick pieces.

    Cut pork
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  14. Serve at room temperature, cold, or use it as the stuffing for steamed buns.