Today, let’s embark on a culinary journey to the vibrant streets of Hong Kong, where the tantalizing aroma of Char Siu Pork Barbecue fills the air. This dish, with its sweet and savory flavors and succulent texture, has always been a personal favorite, and I can’t wait to delve into its magic with you.
A Brief History: Char Siu Pork Barbecue, a staple in Cantonese cuisine, is traditionally made by marinating pork in a sweet and savory sauce, then roasting it over an open fire or in a special oven until it achieves a beautiful caramelized exterior. The term ‘Char Siu’ literally translates to ‘fork roast’, referring to the traditional method of skewering the pork on long forks and roasting it over a fire.
Chinese Char Siu Pork Barbecue
- 1 deep pan
- 1 large re-sealable bag
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring optional
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
- 2 pork tenderloins cut into thin strips along the grain
- In a deep pan, add marinade ingredients. While stirring continuously, cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat or until ingredients are mixed well and warm. Then, pour into a large re-sealable bag. Add pork. Seal bag, making sure most of the air has been squeezed out. Using your hand, massage pork into marinade for an even coat. Place in refrigerator and leave overnight.
- Apply some oil on the grate and preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Discard marinade and place pork strips evenly on grill. Cook for 10 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes. Place a small container filled with water underneath grate and pork, Return grate and cook pork for another hour or until cooked through, turning pork every now and then. Pork is cooked once internal temperature reaches at least 145 °F.
Creating the perfect Char Siu Pork Barbecue is a culinary journey that requires patience, attention to detail, and a love for flavor. Here are some tips that I’ve gathered over the years that might help you on your journey.
- Choose Your Cut: The cut of pork you choose can greatly affect the outcome of your Char Siu. Traditional cuts like pork shoulder or pork belly work well due to their fat content, which keeps the meat moist during cooking. However, feel free to experiment with other cuts like loin or tenderloin, just remember that leaner cuts may require less cooking time.
- Marinate Well: The secret to flavorful Char Siu lies in the marinade. Make sure to marinate your pork for at least a few hours, if not overnight. This allows the flavors to penetrate deeply into the meat, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
- Baste Regularly: Basting the pork with the marinade during roasting not only keeps it moist but also helps achieve that glossy, caramelized exterior that Char Siu is known for. So don’t skip this step!
- Control Your Heat: Whether you’re roasting in an oven or on a barbecue, controlling your heat is crucial. Too high, and your pork might burn on the outside before it’s cooked on the inside. Too low, and you might end up with pork that’s cooked but not caramelized. Aim for a consistent medium heat for best results.
- Rest Your Meat: After roasting, let your Char Siu rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and juicy pork.
- Slice Against the Grain: When you’re ready to serve, make sure to slice your Char Siu against the grain. This shortens the muscle fibers and makes the pork easier to chew.
- Don’t Waste Your Marinade: Leftover marinade can be boiled and thickened into a sauce, which can then be drizzled over the sliced pork for extra flavor.
Remember, cooking is an art, not a science. These tips are just guidelines – feel free to tweak them to suit your taste. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process. After all, the best dishes are made with love!
How to Serve Char Siu Pork Barbecue
Serving Char Siu Pork Barbecue is about more than just plating a dish; it’s about creating a culinary experience that delights all your senses. Here’s how you can turn a simple piece of roasted pork into a feast for the eyes, nose, and palate.
- Choose the Right Plate: The first step in serving Char Siu Pork Barbecue is choosing the right plate. A large, flat plate works best as it allows room for the pork, rice, and vegetables without crowding. If you have traditional Chinese plates, even better! The white color of the plate provides a beautiful contrast to the vibrant colors of the dish.
- Slice Your Pork: After resting your Char Siu, slice it against the grain into thin, even pieces. This not only makes it easier to eat but also showcases the juicy, tender meat and glossy, caramelized exterior.
- Arrange Your Components: Start by placing a mound of steamed rice on one side of the plate. Then, arrange your sliced Char Siu next to it. On the other side, place your chosen vegetables, whether they’re stir-fried bok choy, steamed broccoli, or a simple salad. The key is to create a balance of colors and textures.
- Drizzle with Sauce: Warm your leftover marinade and thicken it into a sauce, then drizzle it over the sliced pork. This adds an extra layer of flavor and gives the dish a glossy, appetizing look.
- Garnish: For a final touch, sprinkle some sesame seeds over the pork and garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro or green onions. This adds a pop of color and a fresh flavor that contrasts beautifully with the sweet and savory pork.
- Pair with a Drink: To complete your meal, pair your Char Siu Pork Barbecue with a drink. A cold Tsingtao beer or a glass of plum wine complements the flavors of the dish perfectly. If you prefer non-alcoholic beverages, a hot jasmine tea or a chilled chrysanthemum tea would be a great choice.
- Serve Immediately: Remember, Char Siu Pork Barbecue is best enjoyed hot, right after cooking. The warmth of the dish enhances the flavors and makes for a comforting meal.
Serving Char Siu Pork Barbecue is about more than just filling your stomach; it’s about taking your taste buds on a journey. So take your time, savor each bite, and enjoy the culinary adventure that is Char Siu Pork Barbecue!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use other cuts of pork for Char Siu?
While pork shoulder or pork belly are traditional, feel free to experiment with other cuts. Just remember, the cooking time may vary.
Can I make Char Siu Pork Barbecue without a barbecue or oven?
Absolutely! You can cook it on a stovetop using a grill pan. The key is to maintain a consistent heat and turn the pork regularly for even cooking.
Can I substitute the honey in the marinade?
Yes, you can substitute it with brown sugar or maple syrup. However, honey gives the pork a beautiful glaze and unique flavor.
My fascination with Char Siu Pork Barbecue goes beyond its delicious taste. It’s about how a simple dish can hold so much history and culture. Whether you’re making it for the first time or have been perfecting it for years, the charm of this dish never fades. So, here’s to many more culinary adventures!
Remember, as the great chef Thomas Keller once said, “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” So, let’s continue to pour our hearts into our cooking, one dish at a time. Happy cooking!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration into the world of Char Siu Pork Barbecue as much as I have. If you have any more questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out. After all, the joy of food is best when shared.