Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork). Delicious, charred, sweet, and savory barbeque pork with a Chinese five spice flavor.
What is Char Siu?
Char Siu is a very popular Chinese barbecue pork with sweet and savory flavors in Cantonese cuisine. It's pronounced as "Cha Siu". You can easily find this meat dish served all over Hong Kong and parts of Asia in Chinese restaurants or takeaway. Char siu comes from Guandong, China. What gives the meat its red color is the red bean curd.
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. We simply loved eating it with steamed rice, noodles with a side of veggies.
Please scroll down to the below Recipe card for full measurements
Note: Your Asian grocery store will carry most of the Asian specific ingredients.
- Boneless Pork butt aka pork shoulder: You may use pork belly for fatty cuts. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wire rack
- Aluminum foil
- Rimmed Baking Sheet, Deep Baking Pan or a Roasting Pan
- Small bowl
How to make Char Siu
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.
Prepare Baking Tray
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.
Create Basting Sauce
Meanwhile, mix together basting sauce in a small bowl.
Remove the pork from the oven and baste ensuring all of the pork is covered in the glaze. Bake for 10 minutes.
Baste & Bake Again
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.
Rest & Slice
Remove from the oven and allow this to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing against the grain.
Storage & Reheating
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.
- 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.
What cut is a char siu?
Pork shoulder or pork butt.
What are Other Uses for Char Siu?
- Fried rice
- Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) or Bao Buns
- Chow mein or lo mein
- Noodle soup
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.
What gives char siu its red color?
Fermented red bean curd is the ingredient that gives char siu its iconic red color.
Other recipes you may like!
- Chinese Roast Pork
- Soy Hoisin Chicken Thighs
- Hoisin Baked Ribs
- Chicken Adobo
- Mongolian Chicken
- Soy Maple Glazed Chicken
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.