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Char siu vs Chinese roast pork


FeChef
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Most of the Char siu you get in chinese take out/buffet is sweet. I prefer the more salty/savory roast pork you get in dishes like roast pork w/chinese veg or w/mushrooms...ect.

 

I tried looking up recipes online and pretty much all of them have lots of sugar and chinese five spice. I am not a fan of five spice.

 

Anyone know of a good salty/savory recipe for chinese roast pork?

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Perhaps you might define better what you are looking for when you say "Chinese roast pork".

 

"Char-siu" is often transcribed as Chinese BBQ Pork, whereas Chinese "roast pork" is usually understood to be "Siu Yuk/Yook" (both using the Cantonese terminology).  The former is strips of pork (tenderloin, half-and-half fat/lean pork loins, etc) coated w/ that sweet seasoning and "roasted"/caramelized; while the latter is a whole pig or large pieces of a pig (or pork belly chunks) seasoned with, yes, five spice powder most commonly (amongst other things) and "roasted" - and is the stuff that is commonly thought of as having crispy crackling/skin, and is NOT usually sweet, at least not as noticeably as "char-siu" is.

 

Which of these two are you referring to when you say "...roast pork w/chinese veg or w/mushrooms..." ?

 

If you are indeed referring to the one with the crispy cracking, then you might want to look for non-Chinese versions of roast sucking pig or roast pig belly in the Western style.  Almost by definition, "siu yook" in the Chinese style will have five-spice powder as part of the taste profile.

 

p.s. Maybe I am out of the loop, but I don't recall siu-yook stir-fried w/ mushrooms or "chinese veg" as a routine/universal menu item...

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Look in to the modern art of chinese cooking of B. Tropp. She has a recipe for what she calls Northern style chinese roast pork. Definitely more savory. I remember thinking I would have changed something in the recipe when I tried it,  but I didn't have a chance to make it again and don't remember now, after so long, what I would have changed. But it is a good starting point.

If you don't have the book, and would like the recipe, feel free to PM me your email  and I will mail to you.

Edited by Franci (log)
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I'm not a fan of five spice. I don't use it in char siu or siu yook.

 

For char siu, I use this recipe and it's always work out well for me: http://www.foodcanon.com/2011/09/auntie-ruby-char-siew-summary.html

I like the balance of flavor and I don't find it too sweet. You can try it once and see how that goes. If it's too sweet for you, cut down the sugar/honey.

 

By the way, when you stir fry with char siu, soy sauce is usually added to the dish. Therefore, the char siu would taste more savory than on its own.

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I'm not 100% sure what you mean by Chinese roast pork. However, I agree with Franci's suggestion to look for northern style - or any style other than Cantonese. Hunan roast pork does me fine.

That sweet taste and the use of 5-spice powder is very Cantonese. Most of China doesn't use it.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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For everyone wondering whati meant by "chinese roast pork" is thin sliced pork (similar to char siu) but its slightly salty and savory. No sweet taste as it would not go well in a stir fry of chinese vegetables in a "brown sauce" that is also very savory. This is common dish in amercan chinese take outs. If you still have no idea what im talking about i dont know what to say.

 

Thanks for the links and info, it should atleast be a step in the right direction. I had no idea the differences of northern style , cantonese, hunan..ect

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For everyone wondering whati meant by "chinese roast pork" is thin sliced pork (similar to char siu) but its slightly salty and savory. No sweet taste as it would not go well in a stir fry of chinese vegetables in a "brown sauce" that is also very savory. This is common dish in amercan chinese take outs. If you still have no idea what im talking about i dont know what to say.

 

Thanks for the links and info, it should atleast be a step in the right direction. I had no idea the differences of northern style , cantonese, hunan..ect

 

You say "American chinese take outs".  Where in America are you referring to?  It is entirely possible that the cooks in the take out you frequent are from a specific area in China and would therefore normally use cut/preparation of pork in the dishes you're talking about.

 

Or they could simply have used pork roasted with minimal seasoning for stir fries and then apply a sticky sweet bbq-style sauce to char siu when reheating for your order.

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East coast. I dont know how they prep either pork dish, I just know there is nothing sweet in the roast pork you get in pork sir fry dishes atleast in all the east coast take outs i have been to. Also the pork for the stir fry is leaner then what you would get in char siu.

 

Anyway, I took Franci's advice and followed the recipe for northern style roast pork. I will report back after ive tried it. It takes a few days just to marinate so it will be a few days.

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FeChef,

 

Could you perhaps take a picture of one of these stir-fried dishes from your local take-out joint; then pick out some of these "roast pork" pieces and take a picture of them?

 

p.s. It is common (but not universal) that many "Chinese Take-out places" in the US especially in less-trafficked places are run by Fujianese folks plying a sort of "Americanized Cantonese-like" list of dishes with other stuff tossed into the (public) menu.  I am wondering if the "roast pork" you refer to is the sort of "fake" boiled "char-siu" with the red-dyed exterior that is often found in such places, as well as in other circumstances elsewhere including in the E/SE Asia.

 

p.p.s. FYI "Singapore Mei Fun" is another thing altogether but which is a common item in such places, which is not known as such in Singapore (at least in the form it is presented in US take-out places) and is not traditionally Cantonese either, even if it has been said by some that it was an invention by (Cantonese) cooks in Hong Kong years ago to evoke the idea of a SE Asian dish.

 

ETA:  It's still not clear what you mean by "roast pork".  (Sorry, I'm afraid I don't go to Chinese take-out places here with any regularity)

Edited by huiray (log)
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FeChef,

 

  I am wondering if the "roast pork" you refer to is the sort of "fake" boiled "char-siu" with the red-dyed exterior that is often found in such places, as well as in other circumstances elsewhere including in the E/SE Asia.

 

 

 

 

It could be just what you describe. I do not know. It does have that "fake" red ring around the slices. Its very tender and very flavorful. I have,  just for experiment purposes, rinsed off a slice and tasted it and it definitely has alot of flavor without the sauce. It also has a darker color beneath the red ring. Similar to dark meat turkey. Its obviously not turkey. The darker color could just be from being stir fried in the brown sauce though. But it does appear to be darker in color through out the meat and not just the surface. Most likely a soy sauce based marinade.

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We just ordered chinese take out a few days ago so im not sure when i would get a picture but i found a good example of what it looks like doing a google search and finding this website here. http://virginialicious.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/chinese_noodle-soup.jpg

 

Here is the picture if you prefer not to click the link to its source. I have to reference the source due to egullet rules.

 

 

 

chinese_noodle-soup.jpg

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I know exactly what you mean now.  I too can get this type of pork and the char-sui.

 

I havent had it in a long time, but this might be car-sui like but w/o a hoisin sauce component.

 

It also might be a different cut of pork, not from the shoulder.

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FeChef, thanks for the info.  Yes, that looks like dyed char-siu.  The one in the pic looks decent, although not the kind I myself would go for when I seek char-siu but is a type commonly used by many places.  (Traditionally, super-lean pork was not favored by many Chinese folks who preferred some fat in their meat - especially intercalated fat - which is why pork belly was amongst the most preferred cuts and amongst the most expensive, whereas lean cuts were often cheaper and a little harder to sell)

 

The kind of char-siu (叉燒) you show can also have a sweetish glaze (in my experience) - it just depends on who made it and/or where one got it and so on; but yes, they would in general have a more "stripped down" taste profile with less "sweet notes" and less unctuousness than stuff like this, or this, which is what I would go for when looking for char-siu. :-)

 

As an aside, a comment about the English terms used for this sort of stuff:  I commonly see Chinese "BBQ pork" being used to describe char-siu, at least in the US, while Chinese "roast pork" tends to refer to siu-yook/siu-yuk (燒肉) which in this context is pork roasted with skin on (usually done commercially with the whole hog) and is definitely savory as compared with char-siu.  Hence the uncertainty about which kind you were referring to in your OP.

Edited by huiray (log)
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I was not too happy about the flavor of Barbara Tropps recipe. It was not sweet but the flavor was just off. I used a pork loin i had on hand and it was too lean so im sure that may have contributed aswell. I will have to do some research on what cut of pork is leaner then shoulder, but not as lean as pork loin or tenderloin.

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BTW FC, what does the Roast Pork in your pic taste like ?

 

when Ive had that, and its been a while, I recall some 5 spice flavor

That was just a pic i found that looked very close to what i was talking about. As far as the taste of what im trying to duplicate, its salty like you would get with a 5% brine solution, but is also savory with that umami flavor. Probably a brine of salt, msg and soy sauce and red food coloring powder. It could be just salt and no soy sauce but i thought due to the darker color they use soy sauce, but it could just be a different cut of meat that uis alot darker then shoulder. I dunno.

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