This mouthwatering Chinese barbecue pork (char siu pork) is so simple to make and just as easy to eat. No need to buy your favourite Chinese BBQ pork meat when you can make it at home. Enjoy it on its own, or use in stir fries, noodle dishes or steamed buns. No special equipment needed, just marinate and bake in your oven.
Traditionally Chinese barbecue pork is cooked on skewers over coals which gives the meat a smokey flavour. When you buy Chinese BBQ pork it usually has a red colour on the outside of the meat, this is due to red food colouring being used.
This recipe won’t give you the smokey flavour or the red colour, because it’s cooked in the oven and by choice we prefer not to use red food colouring for this dish.
However, if you are lucky enough to have a charcoal oven you could use that to cook the char siu. If you really wanted Chinese red pork you could add several drops of red food colouring to the marinade or be traditional and use one red fermented tofu with ½ tablespoon of the sauce.
Types of Pork Meat To Use
You can use just about any cut of pork meat such as pork neck, pork shoulder, pork fillet, pork loin and pork belly. We choose to use pork shoulder because it’s a cheaper cut of meat, relatively lean, and tender to eat (provided you don’t overcook it).
When using pork shoulder, you will need to cut the pork into strips that are equal in width and length – about 5cm (2 inches) wide and about 12cm (5 inches) long would be ideal, this will ensure even cooking.
An additional step we like to do is poke the meat pieces all-over with a fork before marinating, this will help the meat to absorb more of the marinade flavours.
Chinese Barbecue Pork Marinade
So, what goes into a Chinese pork marinade?
Basically, this char sui marinade is made from a combination of light and dark soy sauce, rice wine, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, Chinese five spice powder, minced ginger, white pepper, minced garlic, honey and maltose.
These can all be placed into a large zip lock bag along with the meat which then can be left to marinate in the fridge overnight or for up to two days before cooking.
A few things to consider when making the marinade:
- Don’t go overboard with the garlic 1-2 cloves is sufficient, using more will affect the taste.
- Also, the type of honey you use will also affect the taste. So, if you make this recipe and find that the flavour is not quite right it could be the honey, try using a different brand of honey next time.
- Don’t skip the maltose, this clear, thick and sticky liquid gives the Chinese barbecue pork it’s shine. It is very thick and can be difficult to get out of the container at room temperature. However, when warmed in the microwave oven in short bursts, it softens and can then be easily spooned out.
How To Cook BBQ Pork
Cooking the Chinese BBQ pork is easy enough. All you need to do is turn and baste the meat a few times with the left-over marinade sauce in a hot oven.
As it cooks some of the marinade and juices will dribble into the tray, these will caramelize and burn which can be difficult to clean. To make cleaning up easier, line the tray with baking paper or foil and oil the cake rack before adding the meat.
It is important to baste the meat several times during cooking, it will help keep the meat moist, increase the flavour and will give the char siu a nice golden colour.
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Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)
- 700 grams pork shoulder – cut into 5cm (2 inch wide) and 12 cm (5 inch) long pieces
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon maltose
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger – minced
- 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1 clove garlic – finely chopped or minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- PREPARE THE PORKUse a fork and poke holes into the pork meat pieces.
- MAKE THE MARINADE– Place all the marinade ingredients into a large zip lock bag. Mix well.– Add the pieces of meat to the marinade sauce, and “massage” the meat into the sauce until completely covered. Press out any air from the bag and seal.– Allow the meat to marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours or more (it can be left to marinate for as long as two days).
- COOK THE PORKPreheat the oven to 180°C (356°F)– Line a tray with baking paper or foil, place a well-oiled cake rack on top.– Place the pork meat pieces on the oiled cake rack and keep the left-over marinade (this will be used for basting).– Place the pork into the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes, then:• Flip the meat over and use a small brush to baste the meat with the marinade sauce, cook for another 15 minutes.• Flip the meat over and baste with the sauce, cook for 10 minutes.• Turn the meat over, baste again, cook for another 5 minutes (the meat should be dark golden brown and slightly charred at this stage, if not cook for a few minutes longer).
- ALLOW TO REST– Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
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