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The Char Xiu Experiment

I've been embarking on some home cooking projects lately and I documented one of my first attempts at making Chinese BBQ Pork.

This recipe came from the forums at the japanesefood.about.com website and is definitely the Chinese rather than Japanese version of the dish.

Ingredients included:
Shaoshing wine
Oyster Sauce
Soy Sauce
S & P
Mirin (in place of absent honey)

As this was just an experiment and I plan on only using the char xiu for fried rice - I bought a single pork steak I cut lenthwise.

After an overnight marination, I poorly fashioned some ersatz hooks from metal skewers; with which i hunk the pork strips from the top rack over a pan filled with H2O. These did work though.

I roasted the pork at about 415 for a half hour (not much meat).

I am very pleased with the results: good caramelization, natural red hue (sorry no saltpeter or red food coloring for that matter), good musky pork flavor, crisp exterior, and an only faint sweetness.

Next time I will use the honey instead of the mirin though.

Take a look:

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  1. Wow, that does look good! And red without the saltpeter or food coloring, I hadn't thought it would be. I think I would like a bit of honey too, I like a touch of sweetness, but not too much.

    1. I tried making this a few months ago:

      1 (1-pound) piece boneless pork butt or shoulder
      1/4 cup hoisin sauce
      1/4 cup soy sauce
      1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
      2 tablespoons honey
      1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
      1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
      1/2 teaspoon salt

      Marinate overnight, 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes using the same method as OP, basting with marinade every so often. I cooked the marinade a bit before basting.

      1. Chahan Follow Up Picture:


        Secret Ingredient: dash of dasni-no-moto in lieu of msg.

        1. Very nice, the only thing you need to do is brush with honey or syrup every few min. for 20 min. before taking out of the oven.

          1 Reply
          1. re: theSauce

            Thank you for the recommendation. A Japanese book on chinese cuisine I was reading today also recommends drying the pork of the marinade before the oven - which I carelessly forgot to do. There was minimal over-crisping however.

          2. Nicely done, now I'm hankering for some char siu. I like to BBQ 4-5 lbs of pork shoulder to get that nice smoky burnt flavor. I also like to use maltose (comes in those little plastic containers with the pink lids). This recipe is from a friend.

            5 Tb light soy
            3 Tb dark soy
            5 Tb maltose
            2 Tb white sugar
            4 Tb Chinese cooking wine, rum or any alcohol
            4 Tb hoisin
            1 tsp five spice powder

            1.Mix everything except the pork shoulder in a small pot, simmer on low for 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temp.

            2. Add marinade to pork, refrigerate overnight. Turning the meat the next morning.
            3. Preheat BBQ on high then when you put meat on, put meat on low heat. Maltose will want to burn, burn burn. Baste every 15-20min with left over marinade. Takes about 40min-hour, depending on thickness of pork shoulder. I try to filet it so it is more or less same thickness.

            1. My version of char siu, was a recipe similar to your that i got for epicurious.com however I added some Chinese 5 spice, and used a club pork roast that I cut into thick strips and it has all the same ingredients except honey but no oyster sauce. I cooked it in my convection oven and it turned out really good.

              It was delicious and I used it for pork buns and sliced it for using in fried rice. But that evening we ate a good portion of it just as is, as an appetizer with hot mustard.

              I've used this recipe for baby back ribs too,the hoisin sauce just adds such a wonderful flavor to the pork.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chef chicklet

                I agree, hoisin goes perfect with pork. I think it imparts a sufficent 5-spice element into the meat. ( I may crush some star anise next time as a variation.)

              2. It's all about the cut of meat. Chinese BBQ joints use pork loin.

                3 Replies
                1. re: monku

                  Would this not be killer using tenderloin? I think I'll try that.

                  1. re: monku

                    I like char xiu that uses pork loin but sometimes it can be too lean- given the hyper-selection for leaness in american swine.

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      I use a tenderloin and often bbq it - but you do need to baste every so often. then I serve as I would crispy duck i.e. with pancakes, cucumber, spring onions etc (or shredded iceberg to watery tasteless crispness!) great bbq food - people can make their own and it has it's own wrapper!

                  2. We really enjoyed the club roast, it was just the right thickness,and lean was what I liked about it. If i remember I added marachini cherry juice instead of the food color. I just couldn't do that. I had to hide it from my husband, he was just loving it!!
                    sometimes i forget about these wonderful things,thank you kare raisu for bringing this food around. Going shopping for pork this weekend!!

                    1. Where I come from, I've never seen Chinese BBQ joints use tenderloin. They (and I) user pork neck, because of its higher fat content, which keeps it moist. Greater profit for them too, because it's cheaper.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ozbyte

                        yeh. tenderloin wouldn't work in a real joint. I think that its shoulder. "picnic" shoulder works GREAT for me!! in fact, I think that kare raisu had it right. That pic he linked to had the right look of it!


                        As well, its supposed to be done over open flame, not in a oven. The best way to do it at home, without taking up more room and inconvienience than a hibachi bbq is to use a technique that I once saw on a great HK cooking show. The lead in lyrics went something like "Cham Liu, Cham Liu, Cham Dai Gow Char Siu!!" [rough translation from GF is Chop! Chop!, Chop a huge piece of Char Siu!


                        anyway, they utlized a large cylindrical metal can (like the size of a small steel trashcan) ~2 feet tall or more depending on your patio/yard size. Inside this largeer can, place a smaller steel/metal can ~ the size of a large coffee can. The idea is to hang the 1)sliced, 2)marinated, 3)drained, 4)air dried pork SHOULDER on metal "S" shaped hooks ringing the inside rim of the larger (outer) metal can, while red hot coals are stoked in the inner can. Elevating the larger/outer can above the ground on a cake rack and poking drainage holes in it will prevent grease buildup and resultant fires.

                        The slabs of pork then recieve fierce, but indirect flame and drain their luscious fat reserves away from the heat source.

                        The maltose and remaining viscous marinade come into play in the final stages of cooking. Not before. Remove the meat slabs from the large can by lifting the S hooks out one at a time. So, individually remove the slabs, dunk them in a bowl of maltose and marinade and then return the S hook to the large can while you complete dunking the other S hooks.

                        Repeat dunking process every 15 minutes at end of cooking process until you feel that you are going to wind up with more candy than pork. Only then can you stop.

                        Oh, and this way you get the red from carbon monoxide in the smoke from the briquettes/wood fire. not from horrendous red dye #40! ugh.

                        ok, cjegged out your pics finally. They look good. you made the best of a no flame situation. But seriously. just duck out onto the front/back/side porch and try the double can version I described above. As you pass out your accomplishments, you'll find yourself with many more friends all the sudden! Its really good!

                        btw... where can you get maltose? I have always had to make do with a simple syrup or my neighbor's malt extract from beer making!

                        1. re: krushdnasty

                          you can get them any any Asian grocery store. They come in little white plastic containers(500g) with pink lids. I think they're usually stocked either with rock candy sugar or condiment/sauce areas. It's terribly sticky and slower than molasses. Measuring is futile so just eyeball it.

                      2. I do mine with:

                        soy sauce
                        5-spice powder
                        red bean curd

                        I like my pork with some fat in it. I marinate overnight. Roast each side for 35 minutes, then brush honey onto the surface and broil each side for 3 minutes until the edges are charred.