Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Char Siu (Barbecued Pork)

Char Siu
Sorry the picture isn't so pretty. Me and my husband were already quite famished when I took out of the oven. There was no time to arrange and make it pretty coz we were ready to devour it! I have several recipes of Char Siu or Cha Siu - known in English as Barbecued Pork. I intend to try them all but first I did Renee's (of the now defunct Shiokadelicious blog) recipe. Shame her formerly very popular and award-winning food blog is not online anymore. She probably is busy with some other things. Thanks very much Renee for sharing the recipe!

This is the reddish lightly charred roasted pieces of boneless pork meat hanging off a hook that you see in lots of Chinese restaurants. Very nice teamed with hot steamed rice poured with some soy sauce based sauce. Used in so many other Chinese dishes such as noodle soups, stir fried noodles, char siu pao (siopao), etc. It's quite universal and basic in Chinese cuisine or at least in the Cantonese style of cooking.

For this, I followed Renee's suggestion of using maltose. Which a type of sugar that is formed from malt usually from the production of beer. The one I got from the Chinese grocery is a very thick liquid. By the time I used it, it got cold a bit and was so very thick hence, very hard to take out of its plastic tub. I had to put it out for a time somewhere warm to soften it. Additionally, it's only mildly sweet (I tasted of course). So the resulting char siu was more on the salty side. Next time I think I'll replace some or all of it with honey just to see how the flavour will develop. But the one thing good about maltose is that it gives the char siu this nice glossy sheen that makes it look so attractive. No wonder restaurant chefs use them a lot. So maybe next time I'll keep the maltose for glazing and just increase the sugar or use honey in the marinade? Also, I did not use any red food colouring. I don't think it needs one since the Hoisin sauce already gives out the rouge it needs. Besides, I'm not too fond of artificial colouring what with all the chemicals you can find in there. I'll have to experiment on that soy sauce-based thin sauce that they pour over this on rice. My hunch is it's made from the drippings of the barbecued pork itself. If any of you have a recipe for that sauce please give me a tip. Thanks. :)

Char Siu
(Barbecued Pork)

1 kg  pork (fillet, liempo, shoulder steaks, etc.)
5 Tbsp light soy sauce
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
5 Tbsp maltose (or honey or combination of honey & maltose)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup rice wine (or sherry)
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
3 pcs 1/4-inch thick slices of ginger - smashed
4 garlic cloves - kept whole and smashed
red food colour (optional)

2-3 Tbsp maltose (or honey) - warmed
  1. Mix all ingredients (except pork) in a saucepan. Heat for about 1 minute just enough to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Marinate pork in this mixture for at least overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 210°C/fan 190°C/410°F.
  4. Remove pork from the marinade and arrange on a rack set on a roasting pan with about 1/2 inch of hot water in the pan. (This is to keep the meat moist during roasting). Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Lower heat to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F, baste the meat with its marinade and turn them over. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
  6. Baste again with marinade and cook for another 10 minutes. Check if meat is done.
  7. Remove from oven, brush with the warmed maltose (glaze) and grill for about 2-4 minutes until it's nicely browned or charred - whichever degree of finish you like.
  8. Serve hot or cold sliced on hot steamed rice, noodles, etc.

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