When I say this is the best Char Siu recipe, I’m not kidding. The recipe features two different pork cuts, roasted to perfection full of Asian flavors, to create an amazing Chinese BBQ Pork recipe that will surely become a staple in your family
The combination of condiments provides the ultimate umami flavor with a nice sweet taste to counterbalance. The success of this dish lies in the basting—to add as much flavor as possible—and getting the pork roasted at the perfect temperature.
Char Siu is a traditional Chinese dish with a deep red color. Traditionally Char Siu is made with fermented red bean curds which are red and, in turn, is what makes Chinese pork red. Fermented red bean curds aren’t something you’ll just find in the supermarket aisle though. Instead, you can use red food coloring to make it red. However, I’m not a fan of adding chemical coloring just for the sake of it. The taste is what it’s all about, not the color!
How Do You Make Char Siu Sauce from Scratch?
Making Chinese BBQ Pork isn’t as difficult as you may think. Let’s first talk about the different ingredients of this Char Siu recipe.
What is Char Siu Sauce Made Of?
Char Siu consists of a combination of Asian condiments that gives it its sweet and salty flavor.
- Ginger & Garlic: The ginger helps to add a citric taste while the garlic gives a pungent flavor.
- Hoisin sauce: The Hoisin sauce has a thicker consistency which, of course, thickens the sauce as well. The taste is both sweet and savory with a hint of Chinese five-spice.
- Oyster sauce: This ingredient is what makes this recipe the best Char Siu recipe ever. While traditional recipes won’t often call for Oyster sauce, I do think it’s what gives this dish the umami flavor. It’s salty but more like seawater saltiness. It has only a hunch of sweetness to counterbalance. And, even though it’s a fish-based sauce, it barely has a fishy taste.
- (Dark) soy sauce: Many recipes will only ask for light soy sauce because dark soy sauce tends to be much stronger and will color the meat. However, that added saltiness is amazing and it helps with the caramelization.
- Sesame oil: Using sesame oil, specifically, is not a must but it does provide the dish with a bit of nutty flavor.
- Chinese five-spice powder: It’s a typical Chinese spice blend that can be found in most supermarkets. Making it yourself is hard since Szechuan peppercorns can be hard to find.
You want to marinate your pork and let it sit for at least 12 hours before roasting it. This will guarantee that as much flavor gets absorbed into the meat.
To roast, you’ll need a roasting pan. If by any chance you don’t have one you can always place the meat on the middle rack and slide a drip tray or baking sheet on the lower rack. It’s messier, but it gets the job done.
For optimal roasting, make sure to continuously (every 10 minutes) baste your pork with the sauce. And, most importantly, you want perfect medium-well doneness. Otherwise, the pork will be too dry and stale instead of juicy and tender. Use an instant thermometer for more preciseness. The internal temperature needs to be 150°F/65°C.
Best Choices for Pork
I’ve used an array of pork cuts to make Char Siu. Pork tenderloin can be a good option but also easier to overcook (happened to me before). So cut the time by 10 minutes and broil 5 minutes before it’s done.
Pork Neck is the usual cut for making Chinese BBQ pork. It’s the one I’ve used for this recipe. Pork Shoulder is also a good option. Pork Belly can also be used to make Char Siu, but it’s fattier. Since I wanted to create the best Char Siu recipe for you, I decided to combine two cuts. I’ve used both Pork Neck and Pork Shoulder to provide a variation in the dish. Both bring a different texture which makes the dish even more interesting.
What Is It Best With?
Char Siu can be served with pretty much anything. Some pairings are fried rice, noodles, or a vegetable stir-fry for a vegan option.
But, my favorite combination is this Kung Pao Noodle Recipe with Char Siu.
Best Char Siu Recipe (Chinese BBQ Pork)
- Roasting Pan
- Basting Brush/Spoon
- Garlic Presser (optional)
- 1 lb ½ kg pork belly strips
- 1 lb ½ kg pork collar boneless in two pieces
- ¼ tsp. ginger peeled and finely grated or minced
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
- 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
- ½ tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 6 tbsp. runny honey
- In a bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese five-spice powder, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, and 4 tbsp of runny honey.
- Place the pork in a bowl or Ziploc bag. Add the marinate and close or cover it. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours but ideally overnight.
- Take the pork out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Take the roasting pan, fill it with boiling water but don’t let it touch the pork. Place the pork on the roasting rack and place it in the middle rack of the oven to cook.
- In the meantime, pour the remaining sauce into a saucepan. Add 2 tbsp of honey and 1 tbsp of brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Baste every 10 minutes with the marinade and roast for a total of 30 minutes (internal temperature: 150°F/65°C).
- Let it sit for a few minutes then slice to serve.