This dish comes from China, but it is also often found in other Asian countries. So often, in fact, that it is almost never cooked at home. Pork shoulder is marinated in a sauce based on fermented tofu with the addition of soy sauce and hoisin sauce, garlic, honey, and a Chinese five-spice blend.
Finding fermented tofu isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Look for it online at Asian grocery stores, but if you can’t find it you can substitute it for miso paste.
It is best to marinate the pork shoulder for as long as possible. In the recipe I give a recommendation to marinate for 12-24 hours, but if you can hold off cooking for two days – it will only be better.
Char Sio is usually served with rice or noodles, and you can make great sandwiches from the leftovers.
What is authentic chinese BBQ pork recipe?
Here are a few key features that distinguish authentic recipes from others:
- The key to Char Siu is the flavorful marinade, which typically includes ingredients like hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, and five-spice powder. These ingredients create a rich, savory, and slightly sweet taste, which is iconic in Char Siu.
- Authentic Char Siu often incorporates red fermented bean curd or red yeast rice, giving the pork its distinctive red color. These ingredients not only provide color but also impart a deep, umami flavor to the dish.
- Char Siu is traditionally roasted, often over an open flame or in an oven. This method allows the marinade to caramelize and develop a slightly charred, smoky flavor on the surface of the meat, which is a signature characteristic of Char Siu.
- Authentic Char Siu recipes typically use boneless cuts of pork, such as pork shoulder or pork loin. The marbled fat in these cuts helps to keep the meat tender and juicy during the cooking process.
- During the roasting process, Char Siu is frequently basted with a glaze made from honey, maltose, or sugar, which creates a glossy and caramelized exterior.
- Char Siu is traditionally sliced into thin strips and served with steamed white rice or noodles. It is also commonly used as a filling in Chinese buns (Char Siu Bao) or incorporated into fried rice or noodle dishes.
⏱ Cooking time — 12 hours+. Includes 20 minutes for preparation and cooking + 12 hours for marinating and baking (unattended).
🍽 For 4 servings:
- 1 kg (2,2 lb) pork shoulder roast
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 cubes red bean curd + 1 tbsp liquid
- 1 tbsp five spice powder
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2-3 tsp red bean curd liquid
- 1-2 tbsp leftover marinade
🔪Step by step Directions
Char Siu marinade
Take a deep bowl, put 2 cubes of tofu in it and mash it with a fork.
Add 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 2 tbsp. hoisin sauce, 5-spice seasoning, 2 tbsp. honey and grate 2 cloves of garlic on a fine grater to the resulting paste. Mix well and set aside.
Cut the meat
Cut 1 kg (2,2 lb) of pork shoulder into long pieces of about equal size, trim off excess fat.
Marinate the meat
Place the prepared meat in a bowl with the marinade, stir to make sure the marinade coats the pieces of meat on all sides.
Cover with clingfilm and place in refrigerator for 12-24 hours (the longer the better). After half the time, turn the pork over in the marinade to soak it more evenly.
Preheat oven to 200 °C / 400 °F on top+down, no convection (no fan).
Cover a deep baking tray with foil and place a rack on top. Take the meat out of the refrigerator. Place the marinated pork slices on the rack.
Bake for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the glazing sauce. In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp sesame oil, 2-3 tsp fermented tofu liquid, and 1-2 tbsp remaining marinade. Mix everything thoroughly.
Take the pork out of the oven and, using a brush, brush the meat slices on all sides with the sauce. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Do the same for 2 more times.
Take the pork out of the oven, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then slice into thin slices.
Serve with rice or noodles.
Сhinese BBQ pork with pork tenderloin
To make this recipe with pork tenderloin, follow these steps:
- Replace the pork shoulder roast with a 1 kg pork tenderloin. Trim any excess fat and silver skin from the tenderloin.
- Since tenderloin is leaner and more tender than shoulder, reduce the marinating time to 4-8 hours to prevent the meat from becoming too salty or over-marinated. Make sure to turn the tenderloin halfway through marinating for even absorption.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F on top+down, without convection (no fan). Cover a deep baking tray with foil and place a rack on top. Position the tenderloin on the rack and bake for 20-25 minutes. This slightly lower temperature and longer baking time help ensure the tenderloin remains moist and tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glazing sauce as per the original recipe. After the initial baking time, brush the tenderloin with the glazing sauce and return it to the oven for 3-4 minutes. Repeat this glazing step 2 more times, for a total of 3 glazes.
- After the final glaze, remove the tenderloin from the oven, let it rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice it into thin pieces. Serve with rice or noodles as desired.
Making this recipe in Instant pot
- Follow the original recipe to prepare the marinade and marinate the pork shoulder for 12 to 24 hours, turning halfway through.
- After marinating, cut the pork shoulder into 3-4 equal-sized chunks to fit comfortably inside the Instant Pot.
- Place the trivet at the bottom of the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water.
- Place the marinated pork chunks on the trivet, ensuring they are not touching the water.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to “Sealing.” Pressure cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes.
- When the pressure cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Then, carefully turn the valve to “Venting” to release any remaining pressure.
- While the pressure is releasing, prepare the glazing sauce as per the original recipe.
- Preheat your oven’s broiler.
- Carefully remove the cooked pork from the Instant Pot using tongs and place the pieces on a foil-lined baking tray.
- Brush the pork pieces generously with the glazing sauce, then broil for 3-5 minutes or until the glaze starts to caramelize and bubble. Watch closely to avoid burning.
- Remove the tray from the oven, flip the pork pieces, and brush the other side with more glazing sauce. Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until caramelized and bubbly.
- Take the pork out of the oven, let it rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice into thin slices. Serve with rice or noodles as desired.
Cook Char Siu on grill
To make this Chinese BBQ Pork recipe on a grill, follow these modified steps:
- Prepare the marinade and marinate the pork shoulder as described in the original recipe, for 12 to 24 hours, turning halfway through.
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 200 °C / 400 °F. If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect grilling by placing the hot coals on one side of the grill, leaving the other side without direct heat.
- Remove the pork from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Reserve the leftover marinade for the glazing sauce.
- Place the pork strips on the cooler side of the grill for indirect grilling (or on the upper rack if your grill has one), avoiding direct heat to prevent burning. Close the lid and grill for 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- While the pork is grilling, prepare the glazing sauce as per the original recipe, using the reserved marinade.
- After the initial grilling time, move the pork strips to the hotter, direct heat side of the grill. Brush the pork with the glazing sauce and grill for 2-3 minutes, until caramelized. Be sure to watch closely to avoid burning.
- Flip the pork strips, brush the other side with more glazing sauce, and grill for another 2-3 minutes or until caramelized and slightly charred.
- Remove the pork from the grill, let it rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice into thin slices. Serve with rice or noodles as desired.
How to make this recipe Gluten-Free?
To make this Chinese BBQ Pork recipe gluten-free, you’ll need to replace or modify a few ingredients that may contain gluten:
- Replace regular soy sauce with gluten-free tamari or a gluten-free soy sauce alternative. Make sure to use the same amount (2 tbsp) as specified in the original recipe.
- Use a gluten-free hoisin sauce. Some hoisin sauces may contain wheat, so check the label to ensure it is gluten-free. Use the same amount (2 tbsp) as in the original recipe.
- Make sure the red bean curd and its liquid are gluten-free. Some brands may use wheat-based ingredients, so check the label carefully or look for a certified gluten-free option.
- Ensure the five-spice powder is gluten-free. Most five-spice powders should be naturally gluten-free, but it’s always a good idea to check the label to be certain.
- Check the honey and sesame oil for any gluten-containing additives, though they are typically gluten-free.
By making these adjustments, you can enjoy a gluten-free version of this delicious Chinese BBQ Pork recipe. Follow the same steps as in the original recipe for marinating, cooking, and glazing the pork.
How to make this recipe Keto-friendly
To make this Chinese BBQ Pork recipe keto-friendly, you’ll need to replace or modify a few ingredients that are high in carbs:
- Replace the 2 tbsp of honey in the marinade with a sugar-free sweetener like erythritol or stevia, using the equivalent amount for the desired sweetness. Check the sweetener package for conversion rates.
- In the glazing sauce, replace the 2 tbsp of honey with the same sugar-free sweetener used in the marinade, using the equivalent amount for the desired sweetness.
- Use a keto-friendly hoisin sauce or make your own. Most store-bought hoisin sauces contain sugar, so check the label for a low-carb option or create your own by combining the following ingredients:
- 4 tbsp sugar-free ketchup or tomato paste
- 2 tbsp almond butter or sunflower seed butter
- 2 tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- Sugar-free sweetener to taste (optional)
By making these adjustments, you can enjoy a keto-friendly version of this delicious Chinese BBQ Pork recipe. Follow the same steps as in the original recipe for marinating, cooking, and glazing the pork. Serve with keto-friendly side dishes like cauliflower rice or roasted vegetables instead of traditional rice or noodles.
Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)
- 1 kg pork shoulder roast
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 cubes red bean curd
- 1 tbsp liquid red bean curd
- 1 tbsp five spice powder
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 2-3 tsp. red bean curd liquid
- 1-2 tbsp. leftover marinade
- In a large bowl, mash the diced tofu with a fork. Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, five spices, honey and grate 2 cloves of garlic. Stir and set aside.
- Slice the pork into long strips of about equal size and trim off any excess fat.
- Place the meat in a bowl with the marinade, stir to coat the meat on all sides.Cover with clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours (the longer the better).Halfway through the marinade, turn the pork over in the marinade so that it soaks in more evenly.
- Preheat oven to 200 °C / 400 °F on top+down, no convection (no fan).Cover a deep baking tray with foil and place a rack on top. Place the pork on the rack. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glazing sauce. Mix honey, sesame oil, fermented tofu liquid and 1-2 tbsp marinade. Stir to combine.
- Take the pork out of the oven and brush all sides with the sauce. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Do the same thing 2 more times.Take the pork out of the oven, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then slice into thin slices. Serve with rice or noodles.