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Char Siu (Chinese bbq pork) recipes?

c
caseytown Sep 6, 2006 11:53 PM

I have loved this style for as long as I can remember. Recipes I have found vary...has anyone had success at home? And what cut of pork is traditionally used? Thanks.

  1. designerboy01 Sep 7, 2006 01:11 AM

    You can use it and do a switch on a chicken salad recipe.

    I usually put peeled boiled potatoes, pineapple, celery, tomatoes, and char siu of course. I would cut everything into small cubes and then mix it with miracle whip. Maybe add some prapika on top. It usually gets eaten up fast and easy to make.

    You can also do a quick dish with char sui cut in strips, onions cut in strips. Mix it with scrambled eggs and fry it in a hot oiled pan.

    1. mochi mochi Sep 7, 2006 05:24 AM

      Did you want recipes for char siu or recipes that use char-siu?
      I use pork tenderloin to make my own char siu? Sometimes boneless country style pork rib which is a bit fatty, but a more tender char siu. Also do you want char siu flavored with 5 spice or shoyu based?

      4 Replies
      1. re: mochi mochi
        c
        caseytown Sep 7, 2006 10:12 AM

        I was actually looking for a recipe FOR char siu. I'm not sure whether I would prefer 5 spice or shoyu based, although I believe that my local source leans toward 5 spice. I'd love to try either at home. Thanks!

        1. re: caseytown
          mochi mochi Sep 7, 2006 08:45 PM

          Centenary Church Cookbook

          2lbs. pork tenderloin
          salt and sugar
          1/2 c catsup
          2 T. sugar
          1 tsp. hoisin sauce
          1 T. sesame oil
          1 T. sherry
          1 tsp 5 spice powder
          1 clove garlic, minced
          1/2 tsp MSG- not me!
          1/4 tsp baking soda
          1 tsp salt
          red food color- not me!
          Cut meat into strips approx. 1.5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with salt and sugar and let set several hours; drain. Combine remaining ingredients, pour over meat and marinate 24 hours, turning several times to coat all sides. Place on rack in roasting pan; bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes; turn meat, baste with marinade and bake 30 more minutes. Cool. Slice to serve.
          The other recipe for shoyu based chashu is below.

          1. re: mochi mochi
            Das Ubergeek Sep 8, 2006 03:30 AM

            Substitute fish sauce for your MSG. You'll get the same umami taste but without having pure unadulterated MSG in there. Worcestershire sauce (or its vegetarian fakey-fakey equivalent) also work if you don't feel like having a bottle of fish sauce in your closet.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek
              mochi mochi Sep 8, 2006 04:26 AM

              I do have fish sauce and thank you for the suggestion. It's a good one.

      2. s
        scott123 Sep 7, 2006 08:51 AM

        From someone I've spoken to with close ties to the Chinese American restaurant industry, Char Siu is soy/apricot based. No hoison, no 5 spices, no ketchup, no tomatoes of any kind. The red comes from food coloring.

        I've played around with an apricot based recipe with less than stellar results, so I'm not absolutely sure that my source has the inside information I'm looking for, but, if you're going to make char siu, it's worth keeping in mind.

        Char siu recipes, much like other Chinese restaurant knockoffs tend to suffer greatly from a 'close enough' syndrome. The authors tend to toss everything in but the kitchen sink and as long as the end product is red, they're happy. I've never seen a char siu recipe that more than one person raved about/felt like it tasted like what they get at their local restaurant.

        Although char siu can vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant, it seems to be one of the most consistent dishes in the old school New York style Chinese American restaurant repertoire. If someone could crack the code for one place, it would pretty much crack the code for all places.

        1 Reply
        1. re: scott123
          c
          caseytown Sep 7, 2006 10:24 AM

          Thx for the response...Funny how a recipe, or even technique, can be so agreed upon, yet always suffer from that 'close enough' syndrome. I'll add apricots to my experimentation. But maybe it's better to fall short of 'cracking the code'...makes it more fun to go out for my fix of that damn red pork!

        2. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Sep 7, 2006 09:13 AM

          I have one from the book Trader Vic's Tiki Party. I haven't had the chance to make it yet, but if the food is anything like the drinks in the book (all of them almost exactly like you'd have at a Trader Vic's), it should come out quite well.

          For the marinade, mix 1/2 cup each of sugar, ketchup, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce in a gallon size freezer bag.

          To prepare the pork, trim and remove the silver skin from two pork tenderloins (each tenderloin should be about one pound before trimming). Add the pork to the bag, seal, and shake around to cover the meat. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.

          To cook the pork, remove it from the marinade and thread the tenderloins onto long metal skewers. Grill the pork over a medium-hot fire until it's dark golden brown and the center measures 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer. This should take about 15 minutes. If you don't feel like grilling, you can cook the pork in the oven on a rack over a foil lined pan at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes, turning the pork once during cooking. Be sure to check the meat frequently; the marinade is high in sugar and can burn very quickly. Once the pork is done, transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.

          When you're ready to serve the meat, slice it thinly across the grain, and top with toasted sesame seeds. Serve it hot or at room temperature with Chinese style hot mustard and plum sauce for dipping. If you want to make your own hot mustard, it's really easy, just mix mustard powder and water until it's the consistency you want. If you like, substitute flat beer for some or all of the water.

          Considering the design of the wood fire ovens at Trader Vic's, it wouldn't surprise me if cooking the pork over indirect heat by building a two-level fire, or even doing high-temperature smoking, would work better than grilling the pork over direct heat. I'll have to experiment with this some time in the near future.

          1. JoanN Sep 7, 2006 12:43 PM

            You reminded me of a recipe I have in a very old cookbook called The People's Republic of China Cookbook. It calls for you to fashion ess hooks out of wire coat hangers so you can hang strips of pork from your oven rack. I tried this a couple of decades ago. IIRC, I used safety pins to hang the pork strips. Here's the recipe:

            Make a marinade of 6 tablespoons thin soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons rice wine, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 3 large slices of fresh ginger, 2 whole scallions chopped, 1 tablespoon five-spice powder, 1-2 drops red food coloring. Cut 2 pounds of lean pork tenderloin with the grain into 6 X 2 inch slices. Marinate pork 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

            Preheat oven to 450. Impale each pork strip about 1/2-inch from the end with whatever kind of hook you're using and attach the hooks to an oven rack. Place the rack with the pork strips on the highest rung of the oven and place a large roasting pan on a rack on the lowest rung of the oven to catch the drippings. Roast 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes.

            I tried this recipe ages ago and honestly don't remember why I didn't do it again. Disatisfied with the recipe? Too much of a pain in the a**? Too much trouble to clean the oven afterwards? But now that I reread it, it looks worth a revist.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JoanN
              s
              Sinophile Jan 6, 2007 06:07 PM

              The above recipe seems to me dead-on. We add some honey for sweetness and gloss.

              1. re: Sinophile
                b
                boonie Jul 4, 2009 02:17 AM

                I tried this recipe and added some honey and garlic to the marinade. I also basted it with a mixture of honey, water and red food coloring for looks and taste. it was just right. i'd rather make this than go to panda!

            2. c
              chowetta Sep 7, 2006 04:25 PM

              I've been using a recipe from the Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper for a couple of years now. It calls for 'wet red tofu' which I have found in a squat little bottle at the local Asian market. And it is red'ish hunks of tofu.

              Anyone know what the stuff is? It imparts a salty but to me clearly 'char siu' flavor.

              I've been using pork loin and either grilling it or roasting ina 375 oven for about an hour.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chowetta
                PBSF Sep 7, 2006 08:55 PM

                What's in the squat little bottle is fermented red bean curd. There is also a white version that comes in a taller bottle with smaller individual cubes. The white version sometimes have chili flakes in it.
                I have never seen it use in any char sui recipes, though it might gives it an interesting flavor. Most of the time, it is use in braised pork dishes.

              2. c
                cheryl_h Sep 7, 2006 05:07 PM

                I haven't made char siu for years but I can't see how pork tenderloin can possibly be the right cut of meat. When you buy it from one of the barbecue specialty shops, it's always very fatty and chewy. I would guess they're using Boston butt.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cheryl_h
                  PBSF Sep 7, 2006 08:57 PM

                  You're correct that the pork used for char sui in Chinese deli is pork butt (which is the shoulder of the pig).

                2. mochi mochi Sep 7, 2006 08:38 PM

                  Char Siu Marinade- Jean K from Ewa Beach recipe

                  1/2 C sugar
                  1/2 C brown sugar
                  1/2 C shoyu
                  2 TBL hoisin sauce
                  2 tsp salt
                  2 tsp mirin
                  1 clove minced garlic
                  1/2 thumb size fresh ginger, sliced
                  2 Tbl. catsup
                  1 Tbl. sake

                  Combine in a small sauce pan and heat on low till sugars are melted. Cool. Reserve a little for basting.
                  Enough marinade for 2 lbs pork tenderloin or 2 lbs. boneless country style rib. Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
                  Place on rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes, turn meat, baste with marinade and bake another 30 minutes.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mochi mochi
                    s
                    scott123 Sep 7, 2006 11:38 PM

                    I'm sure this makes a delicious teriyaki-ish sauce, but the odds that Chinese restaurants across the nation are purchasing traditional Japanese (and very costly) ingredients like sake and mirin, is extremely unlikely.

                    1. re: scott123
                      mochi mochi Sep 8, 2006 02:18 AM

                      Yes, you are correct, it is a teriyaki-ish sauce. I just thought caseytown wanted recipes that we used at home and had success with, not restaurant quality authentic char siu recipes.

                  2. q
                    qtxniki Sep 8, 2006 01:19 AM

                    My family used to own a chinese barbeque restaurant, and I cannot divulge the secret recipe, but I can tell you:

                    -there is no mirin, sake, shoyu, catsup
                    -pork butt is used (more fat the better), and not tenderloin
                    -the red colour comes from food colouring, without it, the meat would be naturally brown when cooked.
                    -lots of ginger makes the best flavoured char siu
                    -richest flavoured sauce, comes from generations of boiling down and adding to the original marinade
                    -the syrupy outside is basted in honey
                    -it's impossible to perfectly copy at home in an oven, but is better to slow roast in your BBQ

                    OK, I've said enough! =)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: qtxniki
                      s
                      scott123 Sep 8, 2006 02:27 AM

                      No mirin, sake, shoyu or catsup.... Hmmmmm...

                      Shoyu is just a type of soy sauce. No soy sauce?

                      How about hoisin?

                      How about apricots?

                      1. re: scott123
                        q
                        qtxniki Sep 8, 2006 07:01 PM

                        the base should be started with master sauce and hoisin.

                      2. re: qtxniki
                        oakjoan Mar 17, 2007 11:09 AM

                        YAY! Finally somebody mentions pork BUTT rather than loin because pork tenderloin IS TOO LEAN! What's the use of char siu if one can't have that fat keeping the meat moist?

                      3. o
                        Ozbyte Sep 8, 2006 03:08 AM

                        I'll go with Chowetta down below somewhere. The 'wet red tofu' she speaks about below is really red bean curd and can be found in Asian specialty shops. The thread at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... will show the ingredients and method. I've been making this for years now and both Chinese and Vietnamese friends in the catering business tell it's as good as you'll get in any restaurant. I don't use the red food colouring as a matter of preference, but there's a bit of red colouring in the bean curd. It's important, too, to use pork neck rather than tenderloin as the fat content keeps it moist. Tenderloin cooked at that temperature and duration will become dry, tough and tasteless. The recipe is about half way down the linked page. I was writing as Phil then. Although the discussion after my recipe is self explanatory, I'll emphasise now that I didn't use units of measurement on purpose. Just call it measurement by volume and ramp the units up or down according to the amount of pork you're cooking. I think I got this recipe from a Cantonese acquiantance some years ago and as far as I and others can tell, it's just about the definitive one...

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Ozbyte
                          designerboy01 Sep 8, 2006 07:36 AM

                          That wet red tofu is tofu fermented in wine with red rice. The rice gives it the coloring. I'm chinese and I find it unusual that this is used to cook roast pork with.

                          1. re: designerboy01
                            c
                            chowetta Sep 8, 2006 05:34 PM

                            Thanks for the recipe and link. I remember that thread! And thanks for fleshing out what the red bean curd is.

                            1. re: designerboy01
                              o
                              Ozbyte Sep 12, 2006 03:56 AM

                              I won't argue with a Chinese on this one! However I can say that the red bean curd I have been using has no alcoholic overtones. It simply looks like tofu cubes floating in a pink sause. If there's red rice in there, it must be powdered. The Cantonese bloke who told me to use it said it was the secret to the authentic flavour. It muct work if I'm to believe the comments of my Asian friends....

                              1. re: Ozbyte
                                Melanie Wong Mar 17, 2007 12:21 AM

                                I've heard this debated around the table in many a relative's kitchen and agree with you. The use of saltpeter (potassium nitrate) and the red bean curd are some of the secret ingredients for getting the restaurant taste. Some deli counters in SF use tenderloin and charge a premium for it. My grandfather, who's been gone for 20 years now, preferred it and would buy it for lunch, but I always liked the fattier cuts.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  CindyJ Mar 20, 2007 12:42 PM

                                  You wouldn't, by any chance, have an "old family recipe," would you?

                                  1. re: CindyJ
                                    Melanie Wong Mar 20, 2007 01:54 PM

                                    We don't use saltpeter at home.

                          2. r
                            ricepad Sep 8, 2006 02:28 PM

                            My mom's family recipe is a secret she won't divulge (personally, I don't think it's even written down, but all in her head), but one secret is to use potassium nitrate(?) in the marinade to make the red ring. (She calls it 'dynamite'.)

                            My recipe calls for a couple of cups of hoisin, about a cup of sugar, a little shoyu (maybe a quarter of a cup), and lot of minced ginger and minced garlic. I marinate the meat (cut into strips that are about 2"x2") overnight, and then smoke in my offset smoker for about three hours. The smoking will develop a nice, pink smoke ring without Mom's 'dynamite'.

                            1. d
                              dibiase Jan 6, 2007 11:01 AM

                              ive been told that ground annatto seeds are used to get the red colouring, but searching on the net i cant find any recipes that use this. Anyone heard of this?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dibiase
                                a
                                Alan408 Jan 6, 2007 07:00 PM

                                I have seen roast pork recipes with ground Annatto seeds, but not BBQ pork (cha sui).

                              2. k
                                kcchan Jan 6, 2007 08:52 PM

                                I'll admit - I'm usually too lazy to make my own marinade (and so far I haven't found any recipes that have been reviewed as truly "authentic" - though I might have to try some of the recipes reviewed above) so I typically use the ready-made Lee Kum Kee marinade, which is quite good. I've used pork shoulder and also pork tenderloin in the past, both turn out quite well. I marinate the pork overnight, and then stick it in the oven. To get the glazed look, I usually brush the pork with either honey or more marinde about 10 minutes before it comes out of the oven.

                                1. c
                                  chowetta Feb 14, 2007 08:30 AM

                                  I know this thread is a tad old, but here's a recent article from the Honolulu Star Bulletin where a chef reveals his recipe for char sui.

                                  http://starbulletin.com/2007/02/14/fe...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: chowetta
                                    rmarisco Mar 26, 2007 10:18 AM

                                    well, it might be an old thread.. but i needed it~ i appreciate the link. it looks like it's going to be the winner of all the recipes posted. thanks

                                    1. re: chowetta
                                      t
                                      tim1 Jun 1, 2007 06:05 AM

                                      I've used this recipe, and it works really well, but I was wondering if anyone has any ideas of how to make the sauce that char siu comes in. Or does anyone have any char siu chow mein recipes?

                                    2. chocabot Aug 26, 2007 03:55 PM

                                      Hey Everyone!
                                      I tried the recipe Joan N's recipe posted:
                                      "

                                      You reminded me of a recipe I have in a very old cookbook called The People's Republic of China Cookbook. It calls for you to fashion ess hooks out of wire coat hangers so you can hang strips of pork from your oven rack. I tried this a couple of decades ago. IIRC, I used safety pins to hang the pork strips. Here's the recipe:

                                      Make a marinade of 6 tablespoons thin soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons rice wine, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 3 large slices of fresh ginger, 2 whole scallions chopped, 1 tablespoon five-spice powder, 1-2 drops red food coloring. Cut 2 pounds of lean pork tenderloin with the grain into 6 X 2 inch slices. Marinate pork 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

                                      Preheat oven to 450. Impale each pork strip about 1/2-inch from the end with whatever kind of hook you're using and attach the hooks to an oven rack. Place the rack with the pork strips on the highest rung of the oven and place a large roasting pan on a rack on the lowest rung of the oven to catch the drippings. Roast 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes.

                                      I tried this recipe ages ago and honestly don't remember why I didn't do it again. Disatisfied with the recipe? Too much of a pain in the a**? Too much trouble to clean the oven afterwards? But now that I reread it, it looks worth a revist."

                                      except I doubled the scallion and ginger, used brown instead of white sugar, omitted the colouring and basted with buckwheat honey and it was great. my 5-spice powder is a commercial mix and I've tried different brands that have varied in taste so this could affect the
                                      final outcome.

                                      I used pork tenderloin, marinated overnight and my George Foreman Rotisserie. (the cooking temp would then translate to 450 degrees so i roasted for about 30-35 min total and it was not dry at all - because of the rotisserie? the recipe is forgiving? not sure... ) The meat is tender and really flavourful. It's not exactly like the stores but the taste is there, it's impressively close and certainly worth a try.

                                      1. thekidtjp Dec 30, 2012 09:00 AM

                                        Making Char-Siu pork / chicken right now... my family has been making it for generations. Yet, I am not Chinese, rather Japanese. But for my generation (brother and I) we have been cheating a bit and using Lee Kum Kee, Char Siu as a base. (a couple of 171ml jars for family amount of meat)

                                        We always add :

                                        1/4 cup - Dark Kikkoman Sho-yu (Japanese Soy)

                                        1/4 cup honey (can use sugar if you want)

                                        1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice.

                                        1 Tablespoon of Minced Garlic

                                        1 Pinch of pepper

                                        1 pinch of cinnamon

                                        1 cup hot water (just to be able to mix the thick stuff with the dry stuff)

                                        Marinade you meat over night, cook for about an hour and a half (350c)... well... This really depends on the size of the meat your cooking... and the way you like your meat. Chicken wings would obviously be different from a large hunk of pork, etc.

                                        - If using you oven, may want to think about parchment paper as this stuff can really cook on hard (from the sugar)

                                        1. t
                                          travelerjjm Dec 30, 2012 10:04 AM

                                          I use this recipe in the slow cooker http://www.recipeslib.com/frugal-gour.... It is more "authentic" if you use maltose instead of brown sugar. If you want it red, use a coloring based on red yeast rice, much as you would with Peking Duck.

                                          1. m
                                            madeliner Sep 28, 2013 06:08 PM

                                            I have 3 pork bellies I am going to use for char siu

                                            will be using, hoisin, garlic, ginger, brown sugar and some soy to make it less thick- any other ingredients good to add (or which not to use)?

                                            On hand I have rice wine, oyster sauce, dark and light soy, mushroom soy, ketchup (?) and maggi

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: madeliner
                                              The Professor Sep 28, 2013 07:57 PM

                                              I always use a well marbled shoulder butt, but pork bellies will work nicely for a very rich and succulent end product.
                                              Some people get freaked out by fat. But his dish isn't the same without it. Using loin as has been suggested further up the thread would be a major fail.

                                              I use honey instead of brown sugar, and skip the ginger. A Chinese chef I knew did that, as well as adding a pinch of five spice. A dash of rice wine is good (or use dry sherry...they taste almost identical). You don't need the oyster sauce or the mushroom soy (though it won't hurt anything). NO KETCHUP, nothing tomato. If you like the fakey bizarre red color, use food coloring; that's what the restaurants do. But a dash of dark soy sauce will do practically the same thing.
                                              Most important: give it plenty of time in the marinade, and then roast it low and slow.

                                              Done right, it's a very simple and utterly complicated a dish to make.

                                              1. re: The Professor
                                                m
                                                madeliner Sep 29, 2013 02:08 PM

                                                "Done right, it's a very simple and utterly complicated a dish to make."

                                                :)

                                                1. re: madeliner
                                                  The Professor Sep 29, 2013 05:08 PM

                                                  LOL! I was on my second glass of Barleywine Ale when I wrote that.

                                                  I must reluctantly admit that while it was poetic in a strange way, I of course meant to say that it is "an utterly _un_complicated dish to make".

                                                  In thinking about it now though, I guess my little typo could well apply to other dishes in a weird way. :-)

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