Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork). Delicious, charred, sweet, and savory barbeque pork with a Chinese five spice flavor.
A popular meat served at many Cantonese restaurants. Easy to make at home.
This is a very popular marinated pork with a delicious barbeque flavor in Cantonese cuisine. It's pronounced as "Cha Siu". I'll be sharing an authentic char siu recipe that uses red fermented tofu instead of red food coloring.
When I was young, char siu was often a weekly meal and one of my favorite meat dishes in Chinese food. My mother would make her homemade version or when time was of the essence, she'd pick it up from the Chinese restaurants. It was that or Chinese Roast Pork. Both equally delicious.
This char siu recipe is incredibly easy to make at home in your oven! In fact, it super simple! Combine the marinade ingredients and marinate the pork for at least 6 hours or overnight for best results.
Then the next day roast it over a wired rack with a water bath underneath to help keep the pork juicy while basting it every 10 minutes. It’s that simple and now you can have char siu at home!
What does char siu taste like?
Imagine a tender juicy piece of pork where the outside is flavoured with a sweet brown sugary hoisin taste and the inside is more savoury thanks to the Chinese Five Spice.
You will need the following key ingredients to make this char siu pork recipe. **Please scroll down to the below Recipe card for full measurements***
- Pork butt: I personally find this to be the best cut of meat for this recipe as it has a perfect balance of fat to meat ratio. Boneless pork shoulder could work as well. You may use pork belly for fatty cuts or pork tenderloin for a very lean version. However, if you use the latter, please use a meat thermometer and when the internal temperature reaches 145 F pull the cooked char siu out of the oven to prevent overcooking. I wouldn't suggest pork loin as it's too lean.
Char Siu Marinade:
- Honey: This is the main ingredient to give your own char siu sauce that sweet flavor. Any plain honey will work.
- Red fermented bean curd: This is the key ingredient that gives the pork that red color. We won't be using any red food colouring to mirror the traditional cooking method. Many Asian grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon will carry this ingredient.
- Hoisin sauce: This also gives the marinade that sweet barbeque flavor that many traditional recipes use. It also gives the meat that dark brown flavor. Many Asian grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon will carry this ingredient.
- Brown sugar: Any light or dark brown sugar will work for this recipe. I like using the darker kind. This also helps to brown the outside of the meat and give the meat that sweet taste.
- Regular soy sauce: We are using all-purpose regular soy sauce. The label will just say "Soy Sauce". Do not use light soy sauce or dark soy sauce for this recipe. Many Asian grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon will carry this ingredient.
- Chinese five-spice powder: A seasoning powder made of Chinese cinnamon, fennel seed, star anise, and cloves with some ginger, white pepper or Sichuan peppercorns. Many Asian grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon will carry this ingredient.
- Shaoxing wine: Or you may sub with Dry Sherry Wine. Many Asian grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon will carry this ingredient.
- Wire rack
- Aluminum foil
- Rimmed Baking Sheet, Deep Baking Pan or a Roasting Pan
- Small bowl
How to make Char Siu
Below are steps on how to make this simple char siu recipe:
In a bowl, mix together Marinade ingredients. You may need a fork to crush the red fermented bean curd cubes into a paste. Set aside.
Slice your pork into two long equal sized pieces. When you cut, try to cut in a way that both parts will equally contain enough fat marbling through it.
Pour the marinade into a sealable container or Ziplock bag and place pork into the marinade. Ensure enough marinade coats the top of the pork if using a container. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line your baking pan with aluminum foil and fill it ¼ of the way with water. Place a wire rack over top and make sure there is enough space between the rack and the water, so the pork doesn’t touch the water as it roasts.
Place pork on the wired rack giving enough space between each other. Bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together basting sauce.
Remove the pork from the oven and baste ensuring all of the pork is covered in the glaze. Bake for 10 minutes.
Then remove the pork from the oven and baste again. Bake for 10 minutes. Repeat one more time. (You should baste a total of 3 times and bake 4 times at 10 minute intervals).
Broil it for 5 minutes by raising the temperature to 500 degrees F until the edges become charred. Make sure the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees F.
Remove from the oven and allow this to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing against the grain.
How long will char siu last?
This main dish is amazing as leftovers! It will last up to 4-5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, microwave it or reheat it in the oven again until warm.
What to serve with char siu pork?
It can be served with many side dishes but in Asian cuisine, a simple and great way to enjoy this is with white rice, leafy greens like bok choy. I also enjoy having my char siu in soup noodles or even lo mein! But there are many other ways to use this meat which I’ve listed below.
What are Other Uses for Char Siu
The best part about this recipe is that the leftover char siu can be repurposed in other dishes like:
- Fried rice
- Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) or Bao Buns
- Chow mein or lo mein
- Noodle soup
Which cut of pork should I use?
The best cut of pork for this recipe are pork butt, boneless pork shoulder. Anything cut with fat marbling through it. I tend to use pork butt or neck as it contains more fat which gives you juicier char siu! You may also use pork belly for a more indulgent version. I would not suggest using pork chops.
What is char siu sauce made of?
It is made of hoisin sauce, fermented red bean curd for colour, soy sauce, brown sugar, Chinese Five Spice, and Shaoxing wine (or Chinese cooking wine). It is then basted in a honey, hoisin glaze with the fermented red bean curd.
Why is Chinese BBQ pork red?
It is naturally red thanks to the fermented red bean curd. Therefore, no food colouring is used in this recipe.
Where can I buy fermented Red Bean Curd?
You can find it at most Asian grocers in the sauce aisle.
Cut the pork to ensure enough marbling in each piece
This is important. Ideally you want to cut it into two long pieces but if one piece is missing a lot of fat marbling, that piece will be very dry.
Let the meat sit for 10-15 minutes after roasting
Allow this to sit and rest until it reaches room temperature. You want to allow the meat to absorb the juices. If you cut it too soon, the juices will leak out easily resulting in drier pork.
Other recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this recipe, you may like these other recipes:
- Chinese Roast Pork
- Soy Hoisin Chicken Thighs
- Hoisin Baked Ribs
- Chicken Adobo
- Mongolian Chicken
- Soy Maple Glazed Chicken
I hope you give my Char Siu a try and enjoy it!
If you enjoyed my simple recipe, please leave a star rating and share it with your family and friends or on social media! Take a picture of your re-creation and make sure to tag me @ChristieAtHome in your feed or stories as I would love to see it!
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Easy Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
- 1 lb Pork butt (aka boneless pork shoulder or pork belly for a fattier cut)
- In a bowl, whisk together Marinade ingredients. You may need a fork to crush the fermented bean curd cubes into a paste. Set aside.
- Slice pork butt into two long equal pieces at about 2 inches thick x 3 inches wide and 6 inches long. It's okay if you're off by a few centimeters, this is just an approximation. When you cut, try to cut in a way that both parts will equally contain enough fat marbling through it.
- Pour the marinade into a sealable container or zip lock bag and place pork into the marinade. Ensure enough marinade coats the top of the pork. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line your large deep baking dish with foil and fill it ¼ of the way with water. Place a wired rack over top and make sure there is enough space between the rack and the water so the pork doesn’t touch the water as it roasts.
- Place pork loins on the wired rack giving enough space between each piece. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together your basting glaze.
- Remove the pork from the oven and baste ensuring all of the pork is covered in the glaze. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the oven and baste again. Bake for 10 minutes. Repeat this step one more time. (You should baste a total of 3 times and bake 4 times at 10 minute intervals).
- Finally broil it for 5 minutes by raising the temperature to 500 degrees F until the edges become charred. Make sure the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees F.
- Remove from the oven and allow this to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.