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Jul 2, 2005 05:02 PM

Chinese BBQ pork

  • t

Can any Hounds supply a really good (dare I ask for "the best"?) Cha Su (sp?) recipe?

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  1. I have a question before I give you a recipe. Can you put a rack so that the pork can hang on the rack on a bamboo stick so that the it does not have to lay on a pan or a rack. Hang from a rack make taste better.

    21 Replies
    1. re: yimster

      oooo . . . I like where THIS is going
      my mom would put small drapery hooks into pork ribs, and hang them from the highest rack over a pan of water on the lowest rack in the oven. slow steamy roasting, seriously burnished flesh, YOW

      Her's was Korean marinade . . . hoi sin/garlic/ginger and god only know what else . . .

      Yimster, please give your recipe!

      1. re: pitu

        That sounds like a good method for practically any piece of pork. What about pork hocks?

        1. re: pitu

          You mom was a brilliant improviser, what a fantastic idea, I think that coupled with Yimster's recipe are the perfect solution. Now if I was only no longer on the Liquid Diet I would be rigging that up right now.

          1. re: Chino Wayne

            Actually I love pitu mom's idea. It is better than mine. I used stainless steel s-hooks sharper a little on one end to hand up my meat. But only question is will the drapery hooks support the strips of me.

            I will be doing BBQ Pork in Sep. I also doing beef ribs tomorrow. Wish I had read this post earlier.

            1. re: yimster

              Thanks for the props to my mom! She is pretty genius . . .

              The hooks are plenty strong - she'd do whole racks of pork ribs. The drapery hooks are the small kind - a little over and inch - NOT the 3" kind with multiple prongs for pleats. My recollection is that they go in every 5 or 6 inches, and one might fall apart as the meat gets to cooked perfection...

              Don't forget the steam/drip pan!

              1. re: pitu

                I never thought about trying this at home with hooks-I love the idea. Is it done in a low oven for a couple hours or all day?

                1. re: petradish

                  Depends on the size of the ribs -- regular spare ribs are 45 mins - 1 hour -- thick country style ribs would take longer. It's actually a pretty hot oven . . . 450 is my recollection. You also have to make sure that liquid remains in the steam/drip pan.

                  I guess I'm going to have to ask my mom . . .

                  1. re: pitu


                    preheat oven to 375
                    roast 45 minutes
                    raise heat to 450 and roast 15 mins til crispy edges and deep brown

                    1. re: pitu

                      Would you please ask your mom for the marinade recipe and post it too? I am dissatisfied with what I produced yesterday, but I think it was because my five spice powder was too old.

                      1. re: TCUJoe

                        my mom's recipe is nothing fancy, but boy is it good . . . it's looks kind of 70's from this vantage point . . .

                        for 2lbs spare ribs, marinade in
                        1/4 c soy sauce
                        2T honey
                        2T hoisin
                        2T white vinegar
                        1T rice wine (or pale dry sherry)
                        1 tsp finely chopped/mashed garlic (or more..)
                        1 tsp sugar
                        2T chicken stock

                        trim fat off the ribs
                        marinate for 3 hrs at room temperature (or longer in the fridge, 6 hours +)

                        preheat oven to 375
                        place shallow pan with water to catch drips and steam ribs
                        insert small S drapery hooks & suspend from top rack
                        roast 45 minutes
                        raise heat to 450 and roast 15 mins more (or until crispy edged and deep brown - watch those ribs!)

                        1. re: pitu

                          Thank you and your mom so much. These recipes are really starting to come together. And I remembered something from my student days that might make it more accessible to all; long, long ago we tried to make Cha siu. We used LARGE, clean paper clips bent into a hook/S shape. No need to obtain drapery hooks!

                          1. re: TCUJoe

                            You're welcome! Makes me happy to think about it!

                            FYI this short rib fellow sounds pretty happy - I imagine you've been following it, but just in case...

                            can't wait to hear your report!

                          2. re: pitu

                            Up above, you said that the marinade was Korean. Did you forget the sesame oil, or is it unusual Korean? (Or am I just being narrow minded?)

                            1. re: TCUJoe

                              I was wondering the same thing myself!
                              Family lore calls it Korean, and my mom doesn't remember where she got the recipe (we are not Korean)

                              Improvisor that she is, she might have modified it 35 years ago.

                              Can Korean marinade can exist without toasted sesame oil? No idea!
                              If you throw in sesame oil, it'd look more like a bulgogi recipe, but not it this way first . . .
                              IMHO it's the cooking method that rocks the house. Any marinade will be improved by this hanging roasting!

                  2. re: pitu

                    One weekend many year ago when my of our friends with a weldier made our hanging rack and welder it to drip pan. So you have a one piece of equipment.

                    It is funny what guys can thing of during a hot summer day listening to a baseball game and cold drinks can come up with.

            2. re: yimster

              It will be on a rack, but a rack with holes. Also, pieces will be smaller than usual; about 1 inch thick.

              1. re: TCUJoe

                I sorry to say unless you can hang them on a rack then you will not get "best" recipe. Since the best results that I have gotten are with a hanging rack.

                It seems that the meat cook unifromly and you get crispy and sometime brunt pieces at the ends. You will not get that if you place it flat.

                If you go to a Asian market you can get a BBQ pork sauce than add some sherry, ginger, dark soy, garlic and honey to the prepared sauce. Let the meat sit in the marinade overnight than hang or on a rack and base the meat a few times when it is cooking. You will not be able to completely base the meat if it is laying on it's side. Five minutes before it is done add more honey to the marinade mixture and base again to get a sweet finish to the meat.

                I think the meat remains more moist if hanging on rack because juices have a longer way to run to get out of the piece of pork. While laying on a side it is easier to run out of the meat. Normally the BBQ Pork in Chinese deli are cooked hanging.

                The next time I make the marinade from strach I will post.

                1. re: yimster

                  Dear Yimster,

                  You are absolutely right, and I look forward to all the details you can provide us, so that I will be able to make first class Chinese pork BBQ when I retire and have time to do it properly. In the mean-time, I hope that we can produce a recipe that people can use when they want to cook a package of (boneless) pork ribs relatively easily. I just started marinating some this afternoon combining the 18 BBQ pork marinade recipes in The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook plus what I hope will be an interesting addition; one tsp. sambal olek to give it a little zip. Just mashed all the ingredients and put them in a ziplock bag, took out the air, gave the meat a massage, and we will see how it grills on the Fourth. I left out sugar and honey so it will be less likely to burn. We will see...

                  1. re: TCUJoe

                    I would like to explain my use of honey in the marinade. I add very little honey in the frist marinade, just for a little sweetness. When the meat is nearly cooked then I add more honey because I want the edges to get crispy or may a little brunt.

                    1. re: yimster

                      If I have any honey or sugar in the marinade, burning the meat is no problem. If I DON'T want to burn the meat, I must maintain eternal vigilance over the grill with a water pistol in my hand. That certainly is an advantage of hanging it in the oven as you and pitu suggest. Do you finish with pure honey or a honey-water mixture? Doesn't pure honey make it too sweet?

                      1. re: TCUJoe

                        I have done it with just honey and mixed with the marniade and both ways are fine. Just honey do not make too sweet unless you put a lot on, you are only cover the surface.

                        Also I forgot to say that I boil the marniade just before the last covering with the honey. This will take care of any raw meat in the marniade.

                        My recipe is for the rack in the oven. For the grill I do not use honey until the very end of the cooking process.

            3. The link below is to a recipre I posted about three years back. There was a little contention, but you can follow the thread. I was given this by a Hong Kong Chinese, and my production has been complemented by a number of Chinese. Hope it works for you!


              1. Most of the recipes and suggestions are on the mark, but many years ago we celebrated New Year's (for about 20 years) with a family who had an old uncle who was a retired cook at Hang Ah in San Francisco. He showed me how to make char siu, and two essential ingredients I remember are brown bean paste and saltpeter. It was soy, ketchup, five spice powder, honey, and other stuff. I recall that he insisted that you use BROWN bean sauce (paste). The saltpeter makes the meat red. I think you could use a commercial curing salt, if you can find it. I have always wondered why no one has perfected the good stuff and bottled it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jim H.

                  They have! I don't know if it's perfect but Lee Kum Kee makes a decent Chinese BBQ sauce. I don't like to use bottled sauces too much but since Cha Siu is pretty challenging, this sauce works wonders. Be sure to massage the sauce on the meat well and finish the cooked pork with honey (either a thinned out version with water or straight, depending on how sweet you want it) The massaging is necessary since the consistency of the sauce is like rubber cement. Margret

                  1. re: Margret

                    I've used the LKK over the years (when lazy) but it doesn't have that authentic taste...I usually just buy the stuff at the market and freeze it in chunks. Only use a small bit.

                2. Oddly enough, some of the bottled char siu marinades are really good. I recollect using one by Lee Kum Kee, I think, and the results were very good. It's hard to get that exact taste you are probably looking for otherwise. (I like making char siu with better quality cuts of pork, like tenderloin, which of course restaurants rarely do.)