My ultimate comfort food is a bowl of fluffy rice, doused in sweet soy sauce with glistening glossy slices of Chinese bbq pork aka char siu.

It was one of our go-to dinners growing up, same as almost all Chinese families out there because it’s just so darn easy. Of course back then we would just head to our favorite Chinese bbq place and buy a pound of char siu along with some roast duck.

2020 has kind of changed the casual going out and all that. We’ve been sticking close to home. We only ordered delivery a grand total of just two times, which I’m pretty surprised about because normally I LOVE delivery. I’m not quite sure why it hasn’t really been on our radar considering everyone’s been ordering in like crazy.

char siu with rice | www.iamafoodblog.com

Actually, I guess it kind of goes both ways: there’s the homesteader camp (hello sourdough bakers) and the I don’t wanna cook camp (the ones who know the pain of having their orders cancelled after 30 minutes of waiting). Right now we’re somewhere in the middle I guess. To be honest, we like making restaurant style food at home so we’re not missing too much. Then again, ask me how I feel in another couple of weeks.

This is a quick and easy char siu aka Chinese BBQ pork recipe. It’s essentially the same as this one here, minus the red fermented tofu because we don’t actually have any in the fridge. It lacks that hint of distinctive depth of flavor but it’s still really darn tasty! I mean, sticky sweet and savory roasted pork?! Especially with rice? It’s comfort food to the max!

What is char siu/Chinese BBQ pork?

Char siu literally translates to fork roasted and that’s exactly what char siu is, normally: fork roasted pork. Pork – usually pork butt/shoulder – is marinated in a sweet and savory BBQ sauce and then roasted. It’s sweet and salty and has just some nice complexity thanks to five spice. It’s juicy and sticky and just about perfect on a bowl of fluffy white rice.

char siu over rice | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make char siu at home

  1. Cut your pork. You want to cut the pork into long strips at least 3 inches wide.
  2. Marinate. Mix up honey, hoisin, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, garlic, ginger, five spice, and white pepper and rub it all over the pork and let it marinate overnight (or at least for an hour) in the fridge.
  3. Roast. Let the pork get all juicy and cooked through on a wire rack in a low oven.
  4. Make a glaze. Make a quick glaze by bringing the excess marinade and a bit of honey to a boil.
  5. Brush. Generously coat the pork with the glaze and give it a blast of heat to char it. Slice and enjoy!

char siu | www.iamafoodblog.com

Which cut of pork is best for char siu?

You can use pretty much any piece of pork for char siu, from pork loin to pork butt. In fact, when you go to a real Chinese BBQ place, they often ask you, “fei ding sau” (胖或瘦) which translates to fat or skinny. Truthfully they usually only use pork butt at Chinese BBQ places, but even then, there will be leaner and fattier parts on a pork butt.

  • If you want a more luscious, rich char siu, use pork butt
  • If you want a tender, leaner char siu, use pork tenderloin
  • If you want lean char siu, use pork loin
  • If you want the best chair siu you’ve ever eaten, use pork collar aka pork neck. It’s not a common cut, but essentially it’s the shoulder that runs from the neck to the tip of the loin.

slice of chinese bbq pork | www.iamafoodblog.com

What ingredients do I need?

You do need a couple of Chinese sauces, namely hoisin and soy sauce. They sell hoisin online and at most grocery stores in the Asian aisle, so you’re pretty much good to go. Other than that you need honey, garlic, ginger, five spice (you can skip this if you don’t want to buy it), and a pork butt/shoulder.

Char siu ingredients

  • Hoisin sauce – They pretty much sell hoisin everywhere now, from Target to your basic grocery store. It’s a thick, sweet brown sauce that’s used in marinades and as a dipping sauce. It’s super flavorful: sweet and savory, tangy, and full of umami. It’s essential for Chinese bbq dishes.
  • Shaoxing wine – This is the secret ingredient that all your Chinese food needs to taste like restaurant style Chinese food. Shaoxing wine is rice wine and while it’s optional for this recipe, it’ll be 10 thousand times better if you get it. They sell it online and in Asian grocery stores.
  • Five spice – So many char siu recipes out there are just glazed pork. But if you want a savory char siu, don’t forget the five spice. It’s added flavor.
  • White pepper – If you don’t have white pepper, don’t sweat it, but if you do, use it here. It’s more fragrant, delicate, and floral. It adds pepperiness without overwhelming.

chinese bbq pork slices | www.iamafoodblog.com

How do you pronounce char siu?

It’s cha as rhymes with “rah rah rah” and siu as in rhymes with “few.”

Why should I make char siu?

Char siu is a low effort high reward SUPER delicious juicy roasted pork that you will love. It has a sticky sweet glaze that is so good that you’ll want to eat it on everything. Plus, if you’re missing Chinese take out, this is the dish for you.

What can I serve it with?

You can have it with fluffy white rice, in buns, with noodles, in fried rice, basically anything.

char siu recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Easy Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

A delicious sweet and sticky juicy Chinese bbq pork aka char siu recipe
Serves 4
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
marinating 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp hoisin
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing wine optional
  • 2 cloves garlic lightly smashed
  • 1 inch ginger sliced
  • 1/2 tsp five spice optional
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper optional
  • 2 tbsp honey for glaze
  • 1 lb pork butt/shoulder cut into strips

Instructions

  • Mix the marinade ingredients throughly. Coat the pork with the sauce and marinate for minimum 1 hour and up to 24.
    marinating pork for char siu | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • When ready to cook, heat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil. Remove the pork from the marinade, shaking off excess. Lay the pork on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, flipping halfway through.
    roasting pork for char siu | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • While the pork is cooking, heat up the remaining marinade (remove the ginger and garlic) with the last 2 tablespoons of honey. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until it reduces and thickens slightly. It should coat the back of a spoon.
    chinese bbq sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Brush the pork with the glaze and turn the heat up to 400°F, brushing with glaze and flipping, until slightly charred. Let rest slightly, slice and enjoy!
    roasted char siu | www.iamafoodblog.com

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 443 Calories from Fat 226
% Daily Value*
Fat 25.1g39%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 102mg34%
Sodium 510mg22%
Potassium 473mg14%
Carbohydrates 26.5g9%
Fiber 0.8g3%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 27.8g56%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

9 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    This looks great, can’t wait to try! Just to clarify, the ingredients list suggests the pork should be pre-cut into strips, but in the photos it looks like the shoulder goes into the over whole and is cut after?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi amy,
      i just made one giant piece but normally I cut it into 3 inch x 2 inch strips :)

  2. Evan says:

    Could it work with pork tenderloin? I know it’s got much less fat and is much smaller, so maybe just reduce the cooking time? Thanks.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi evan,
      you can use pork tenderloin but you’d definitely have to decrease the cooking time and keep an eye on it as pork tenderloin has a tendency to dry out. start checking at the 30 minute mark!

  3. Sabrina says:

    yes I am missing it, and not because of shut down but just because the traditional Chinese restaurants in my area are now something else, so this will definitely help and am surprised that the ingredient list isn’t that long, thank you!

  4. Devan says:

    Wow this is just awesome. Definitely the BBQ fix I’m looking for. Nicely done! :)

  5. Eleana says:

    THIS LOOKS AMAZING!! Great quarantine project

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Did you make this recipe?

Share it on instagram and tag it #iamafoodblog. If you'd like to leave a rating without leaving a comment, you can do so by clicking the stars underneath the recipe name.

Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike