Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

photo of a piece of Chinese BBQ pork with slices next to it

There’s a lot of foods that I always had around the house growing up that I took for granted. Char Siu is definitely one of them. Char Siu is a bbq pork. The pork is marinated with a sauce made up of five spice powder, hoisin sauce, and honey. There is usually some red food coloring added as well, giving the outside edge of the meat a reddish/pink tinge.  The pork is typically skewered or roasted on high heat creating a crispy charred exterior. The sauce is sweet and salty and creates a sticky glaze.
photo of slices of pork
The meat can be eaten on its own or is also often used in fried rice, or wrapped inside a steamed bun for char siu bao.

Growing up, it seemed like char siu was always readily available in my house, to the point where I didn’t really even care for it anymore. But now that I’m on my own, it’s definitely something I miss having.
close-up photo of sliced pork
For a while now I’ve thought about making it myself. The ones I buy are always really salty and it’s been a long time since my mom has made it. I looked at some recipes and it didn’t look too hard. It’s actually quite easy. You mix a few ingredients together to create a marinade and then you marinate the pork for a few hours and then roast it in the oven. Easy peasy.

You can use any cut of pork. I like pork loin since it is leaner, but I used pork butt this time because it was on sale. It is a fattier piece of meat but very moist and tender. If you aren’t a fan of pork, you can even substitute for chicken.
photo of char siu on a plate
I used a recipe I found on My Asian Kitchen with some modifications. Traditionally you are supposed to add maltose to create the sticky shiny glaze but I don’t know what maltose is supposed to look like so I wasn’t able to get any. So I used honey instead, which was recommended.
photo of sliced pork

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 8
Char Siu is a sweet and salty pork dish with a sticky sauce that can be served as a main dish or appetizer. It gets its distinctive red tinge from a little bit of food coloring that is mixed in with the marinade. You can use any cut of pork that you like (I like to use pork loin or pork butt), but be sure to plan ahead so you can marinate it for at least several hours. I like to marinate the pork overnight and cook it the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey plus extra for glazing
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooking Chinese wine
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp 5 spice powder
  • 3 drops red food color
  • 2 lbs pork loin (see note)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, honey, sugar, soy sauce, cooking wine, salt, five spice powder, and food coloring.
  2. Place the pork in a container large enough to hold it. Pour the marinade over the pork and transfer the container to the refrigerator. Marinate the pork for at least a few hours, but for the best results marinate it overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pork on the baking sheet. Bake the pork for 30 minutes, turn it over and bake it for 30 minutes more. Adjust the oven temperature to 400°F and roast the pork for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top of the pork is charred and crispy.
  4. Brush the pork with honey to give it a glossy shine. Slice and serve as an appetizer or main dish.

Notes:

  • You will need to marinate the pork and, depending on the size of the container you use, you may want to cut the pork into smaller chunks.
  • Recipe adapted from My Asian Kitchen
Nutrition Facts
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
Amount Per Serving (0.13 of recipe)
Calories 206 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 1402mg61%
Potassium 458mg13%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin C 0.2mg0%
Calcium 15mg2%
Iron 1.2mg7%
Net Carbs 12g24%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have. All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

6 comments on “Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)”

  1. wow! this looks so easy to make! I thought it’d be much more complicated. This looks like it’d go nicely with some rice, or in a bun.

  2. Hey Kirbie,

    Char Siu is also a staple at my house, very impressive you make your own marinade since you can buy the Lee Kum Kee brand one. Obviously, you dont have control of the bad ingredients that are in the store bought marinade. Will have to try this home made recipe out! I know its bad for you, but the “fattier” pork cuts come out the best in my opinion.

    Steve

  3. Usually maltose is sold in little plastic bowls; the consistency is really thick and has a similar color to honey. It’s available in asian supermarkets- just be careful not to make a mess as it is quite hard to clean up since it is so thick and sticky!

  4. I grew up with char siu meat too! Though, I’ve never tried to make it. Kudos to you 🙂

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