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Char Siu


Jason Perlow
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What I find a little confusing, is everyone so far has referred to Char Siu as BBQ but no one has mentioned cooking it over a charcoal grill or a woodfire.

I think stickly speaking the term "barbeque" is referring to cooking in slow heat in an oven. When you grill something over open fire, it should be called "grilled". A lot of people mis-labelled their dish. (e.g. "Come to my house to do some barbeque!", and they refer to grilling some hamburger patties on a home "BBQ" stove)

Okay, but you can cook something slowly on a wood or charcoal fire (ribs are a great example). Has anyone tried making char siu on a charcoal or wood fire, and if so how did it stack up against the oven version?

Several years ago, after tasting Char Siu from a store that grilled it over charcoal, I decided to make my next batch that way. The "hardware" required some creativity (I added a piece of aluminum flashing on edge to raise the cover of my Weber grill about 18") and even though the first attempt was only "OK" (a little overcooked :sad: ), now it is the only way I make it 10 months of the year (Sorry, but the dead of winter is NO fun). The flavor is FANTASTIC! I have also tried cooking Char Siu over the charcoal, but adding some hickory wood to give it some "smoke" flavor. Also very good. In fact, a friend used my Char Siu marinade for a Barbeque Cook-Off and won Second Place! :biggrin:

Vince

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What I find a little confusing, is everyone so far has referred to Char Siu as BBQ but no one has mentioned cooking it over a charcoal grill or a woodfire.

I think stickly speaking the term "barbeque" is referring to cooking in slow heat in an oven. When you grill something over open fire, it should be called "grilled". A lot of people mis-labelled their dish. (e.g. "Come to my house to do some barbeque!", and they refer to grilling some hamburger patties on a home "BBQ" stove)

Okay, but you can cook something slowly on a wood or charcoal fire (ribs are a great example). Has anyone tried making char siu on a charcoal or wood fire, and if so how did it stack up against the oven version?

It's lightyears ahead of the oven version, and the oven version is good! Grilled char siu is fantastic.

regards,

trillium

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In regards to using maltose for a glaze, try using honey for a variation. My father uses honey for his char siu that he sells in his restaurant. There is a difference with the honey glaze - hard to describe the difference, though. I prefer it that way but that may be b/c I grew up on the honey glaze.

As for lean vs. fatty pork, my vote goes for fatty pork. It ain't as healthy (and I'm sure my hips don't like it as well) but oh is it tasty. I like the "bun saow bun fay" (1/2 lean, 1/2 fatty) char siu in the restaurants. Mei Lai Wah bakery in NYC's Chinatown uses that type of char siu in their char siu bao. I love finding the fatty bits in there. :biggrin:

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  • 1 month later...

in contrast to Gastro888, my tongue is very sensitive to fatty bits in char siu bao, even a tiny little bit will make me aware of it and I will pick it out from my mouth! haha..

my ingredient list of making char siu seems very simplified>> pork loin marinate with light soy sauce and a little premium dark soy sauce (lao3 chou1), five spice and cinnamon powder to taste, honey and red colouring (try to omit colouring if cook for family). Pork loin is a little dry when done, but definitely a healthier choice.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

I have been scouring the web for char siew recipes and I came up with different versions: some with hoision sauce and some without; with 5 spices and without; with tomato sauce and without; with honey and without.

Can you share you favourite char siew recipes here? Maybe, somebody could start a cookout. What is a 5 star one?

My favourite is the type served by wonton noodles and char siew rice hawkers rather than restaurants - more toward the SE Asian vesion.

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There are a lot of recipes in the char siu bao cook-off, but my favourite is the one from Andrea Nguyen's book. c. sapidus was kind enough to pm it to me a few months ago, and I just recently (last week!) bought the book. I think I've made that recipe 4 or 5 times since I first received it! I only use it for bao, but when my mother left I sent some with her to family in the Philippines, and they loved it as is. And for what it's worth, the leftover marinade makes excellent sauce for the bao filling.

Although I love the recipe as it is, I was thinking of adding a bit of preserved tofu to it, as some of the comments in the char siu bao topic mentioned that the tofu added something special to the char siu. Haven't yet tried that, though, as I can't bring myself to buy an entire jar of preserved tofu just to make char siu (and I only have a year or so left in my current residence, to I need to use up what I already have in my cupboards!).

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I have been scouring the web for char siew recipes and I came up with different versions: some with hoision sauce and some without; with 5 spices and without; with tomato sauce and without; with honey and without.

Hoisan sauce, 5 spices, honey: I have made char siew with.

But tomato sauce... that's the first time I have heard of using such an ingredient. Do you have a link or a quote for such a recipe?

My own version of it was posted here: (Link)

Recipe for Chinese BBQ pork

Use 2 lb pork loin (or any cut you like). Cut the pork loin into long, roughly 2 inch by 1 inch pieces. I use a fork to jab on to the pork to make many many tiny holes. When the pork is soaked in the marinade, the marinade will sip into the pork.

To marinate, I use 2 to 3 tbsp of the Lee Kum Kee's "Chinese Marinade" (see picture), 2 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp five spice powder, 2 tsp brown bean sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar and about 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (pressed). Mix the marinade together in a mixing bowl. Lay on the pork and rub on the marinade. Leave the pork soaked in the marinade in the mixing bowl overnight (in the refrigerator).

Before baking, skew the pork with some long metal skewers. I use two skewers for each piece of pork to make sure I can turn them easily. Here is the trick to make the BBQ pork moist: I place a pan of water on the middle rack in the oven. Use some gadgets to hold the pork pieces right above the pan of water when baking. (I use 2 narrow cake pans, one on each side of the pan of water, to hold the 2 ends of the skewers.) This pan of water will keep the BBQ pork moist during the baking process.

Set the oven to 300F, bake for 1.5 hour. Turn the pork about every 20 minutes. About 1 hour into it, start basting the BBQ pork (see recipe for basting liquid). When finished, remove the BBQ pork from the skewers and slice them into 1/4 in pieces. Serve with condiments (see condiments).

Recipe for basting liquid:

- 2 tbsp of LKK's Char Siu Sauce (or similar product by other makes)

- 1 tsp brown sugar

- 3 tsp honey

Mix together and use to baste the BBQ pork. If you don't want to use the ready-made BBQ sauce, you may make your own by mixing some hoisin sauce, brown bean sauce and a bit of Chinese Marinade.

Condiments (separate):

- light soy sauce

- hoisin sauce

- hot mustard (mustard powder mixed with water)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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There are a lot of recipes in the char siu bao cook-off, but my favourite is the one from Andrea Nguyen's book.  c. sapidus was kind enough to pm it to me a few months ago, and I just recently (last week!) bought the book.  I think I've made that recipe 4 or 5 times since I first received it!  I only use it for bao, but when my mother left I sent some with her to family in the Philippines, and they loved it as is.  And for what it's worth, the leftover marinade makes excellent sauce for the bao filling.

Although I love the recipe as it is, I was thinking of adding a bit of preserved tofu to it, as some of the comments in the char siu bao topic mentioned that the tofu added something special to the char siu.  Haven't yet tried that, though, as I can't bring myself to buy an entire jar of preserved tofu just to make char siu (and I only have a year or so left in my current residence, to I need to use up what I already have in my cupboards!).

I second this recommendation for the Char Siu in Nguyen's book "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen." I would add to it only the caveat that you make sure to cut the pieces at least as thick as suggested before roasting (1.5 inches); the idea being to allow enough time in the oven to crispy-char the edges of the meat without overcooking the interior, which would make it dry and less yummy--which is what happened to a couple of my smaller pieces. I used it on a Chinese-style noodle salad and in a Viet sandwich. I would definitely garnish a wonton soup with it.

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  • 2 years later...

Last night I made some char siu at home. Gave my 6-year old post a revival. I did something slightly differently this time.

On the meat preparation: I used a pointy sharp knife to jab on the pork loin a couple of hundred times all around. My idea is to let the tiny holes soak up the marinade. The result was very good. The pork was full of the garlic flavor I haven't tasted as intense before.

On the marination: I skipped the five-spice powder. Used about 7 to 8 whole star anises. Broke them up. Also (learned from my eating experience in Hong Kong): use some Chinese rice wine. I didn't have anything else so I used some XiaoShing rice wine. I will experiment with other kinds in the future.

Baking: Set 250F for 3 hours instead of the higher temperature for shorter time. The result was better. Meat more tender. I think I will lower the temperature even more and bake longer next time.

Recipe for Chinese BBQ pork

Use 2 lb pork loin (or any cut you like). Cut the pork loin into long, roughly 2 inch by 1 inch pieces. I use a fork to jab on to the pork to make many many tiny holes. When the pork is soaked in the marinade, the marinade will sip into the pork.

To marinate, I use 2 to 3 tbsp of the Lee Kum Kee's "Chinese Marinade" (see picture), 2 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp five spice powder, 2 tsp brown bean sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar and about 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (pressed). Mix the marinade together in a mixing bowl. Lay on the pork and rub on the marinade. Leave the pork soaked in the marinade in the mixing bowl overnight (in the refrigerator).

Before baking, skew the pork with some long metal skewers. I use two skewers for each piece of pork to make sure I can turn them easily. Here is the trick to make the BBQ pork moist: I place a pan of water on the middle rack in the oven. Use some gadgets to hold the pork pieces right above the pan of water when baking. (I use 2 narrow cake pans, one on each side of the pan of water, to hold the 2 ends of the skewers.) This pan of water will keep the BBQ pork moist during the baking process.

Set the oven to 300F, bake for 1.5 hour. Turn the pork about every 20 minutes. About 1 hour into it, start basting the BBQ pork (see recipe for basting liquid). When finished, remove the BBQ pork from the skewers and slice them into 1/4 in pieces. Serve with condiments (see condiments).

Recipe for basting liquid:

- 2 tbsp of LKK's Char Siu Sauce (or similar product by other makes)

- 1 tsp brown sugar

- 3 tsp honey

Mix together and use to baste the BBQ pork. If you don't want to use the ready-made BBQ sauce, you may make your own by mixing some hoisin sauce, brown bean sauce and a bit of Chinese Marinade.

Condiments (separate):

- light soy sauce

- hoisin sauce

- hot mustard (mustard powder mixed with water)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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i use boneless pork neck, whenever and whereever i can find them. In some of the countries that i have lived in, it may also be included or labelled as pork shoulder, ie there are no internationally standardised meat cuts, but boneless pork shoulder would be close to pork neck.

when i first started making char siu, i used pork loin, and wondered why i cannot get the same texture/flavor as restaurant/street hawker char siu. I think char siu needs well marbled pork, and pork loin does not have enough (or any) fat, and it is too 'tender', ie no texture. Also, the final product has to have 'burnt' and crispy edges to it.

that is what char siu is for me, and i am sure there are many others with different opinions, and it could be interesting to compare and contrast?

It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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  • 7 months later...

ive made it with pork cheeks before. 臉頰肉. i got the idea from a couple butchers in chinatown, san francisco. pork cheeks are usually very marbled and gives a nice crunch and delicate flavor after barbequing.

by the way, hi, im new here.

Edited by haribos (log)
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