Char Siu : Looking for advice on cuts, marinades, cooking temps

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

boomchakabowwow

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
2,189
Reaction score
886
Boom, I had the same idea about hanging them off the raised rack in my gas grill. I didn’t get a chance to check clearance yet though so let me know how it goes. Other thought was to hand them on the rotisserie attachment on gas grill.
it works. I just jab my skewer into the top rack. It cantilevers out.

I’m going slow/low. I, worried the sweet marinade will char big time. Hail Mary.
 

dmourati

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2018
Messages
50
Reaction score
0
Here's what you need to do in terms of trimming:

[video=youtube;yKr8aYhpmz0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKr8aYhpmz0[/video]
 

DitmasPork

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,570
Reaction score
847
Location
BROOKLYN, NY
Boom, I had the same idea about hanging them off the raised rack in my gas grill. I didn’t get a chance to check clearance yet though so let me know how it goes. Other thought was to hand them on the rotisserie attachment on gas grill.
I used to use hooks, suspending the char siu strips from the underside of the top rack, with a pan with water under it to catch drippings.

Now I just do them in a baking pan lined with non-stick foil.

Wished I had a tandoori oven!
 

erickso1

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
355
Reaction score
252
I used to use hooks, suspending the char siu strips from the underside of the top rack, with a pan with water under it to catch drippings.

Now I just do them in a baking pan lined with non-stick foil.

Wished I had a tandoori oven!
I currently do them on a raised rack on a baking pan lined with non-stick foil too.

My grocery store just stopped carrying shao xing, and they don't have the red bean paste, so looks like a trip to north Austin is needed. I also didn't get a chance to ask our butcher about pork necks, but those cuts look awesome.
 

DitmasPork

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,570
Reaction score
847
Location
BROOKLYN, NY
I currently do them on a raised rack on a baking pan lined with non-stick foil too.

My grocery store just stopped carrying shao xing, and they don't have the red bean paste, so looks like a trip to north Austin is needed. I also didn't get a chance to ask our butcher about pork necks, but those cuts look awesome.
Since you're in Austin, I'll bet you that MT Supermarket has pork neck meat—along with fermented red bean cubes and Shao xing! I've not been there but assume it's like any other massive Chinese Supermaket—like the ones in NYC.

Also, one cooking step that many Siu mei vendors and restaurants do with their char siu is dunking or brushing the meat with a maltose dip 10 minutes before it's done cooking—dip might be simply composed of maltose, honey, water, sugar; or marinade boiled down a little with maltose.

Home cooked char siu often eliminates the maltose dip, and just has it (or sugar/honey) in the marinade—it's easier not having that extra step.
 

boomchakabowwow

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
2,189
Reaction score
886
funny. i talked to a chinese lady about Char Sui. she admitted she (since cranking out babies) resorted to the jar marinade.

BUT, she has a high end butcher that reserves pork cheeks for her. she said it in chinese, but i am almost positive that is what she meant. she said the tenderness is rarefied air. unbelievable. ii am gonna touch bases with my butcher, just in case. suss it out.
 

erickso1

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
355
Reaction score
252
Made another batch last night. Still coming out pretty good. The triangle shaped muscle that the narrator of the video on page 1 takes out and uses for sweet and sour pork, I actually roast along with the other pieces and slice thin for sandwiches.

032018 char siu.jpg
 

Ant4d

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2013
Messages
36
Reaction score
0
Pork neck or collar is the best. Cut it into even sizes and marinade in hoisin , rice wine , 5 spice ,red food colouring,bean paste and brown sugar.
Place on a rack and roast at 300f,baste and turn every 20 min for about an hour .
Once cooled mix 1 tbls of maltose with 3/4 cup of hot water and dissolve.
Spoon owner pork and let set.
 

boomchakabowwow

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
2,189
Reaction score
886
Bringing this back up. I have some marinating. 24 hour soak.

salted bean curd cube in the marinate was the biggest game changer. I’m doing a riff, based on the Cookiing w/Mikey guy on YouTube. Tomorrow, I’m gonna cook it in my charcoal Grill. Indirect heat. I’m hoping for great things :)
 

Tristan

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
Messages
608
Reaction score
106
The thought that keeps running through my head is if any one tried using a Pitbarrel cooker to make char siew.
seems the closest device to the authentic roast ovens you would use.
 

boomchakabowwow

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
2,189
Reaction score
886
The thought that keeps running through my head is if any one tried using a Pitbarrel cooker to make char siew.
seems the closest device to the authentic roast ovens you would use.
Agree. I’m gonna try to hang the chunks inside the grill. I have not figured it out yet.

edit. Not easy to do.
 
Last edited:

tchan001

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Messages
126
Reaction score
112
Location
Hong Kong
From "Grandpa's Kitchen 2" by Steve Lee. I like his recipes as he has quite high standards for his Chinese cooking. If you want to find out more about this book, refer to my post on Please recommend some cookbooks (or websites, YT etc).

Grandpa's Barbecue Pork

Ingredients
2 pieces pork shoulder butt
19g Su wood
maltose

Marinade
1 tbsp ground bean paste
2 tbsp Hoi Sin sauce
3 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp Su wood infusion
1/2 cube fermented tarocurd
1 cube fermented beancurd
2 tbsp light soy sauces
3 tbsp Chinese rose wine
2 tbsp sesame paste
2 tbsp grated garlic
1 tsp fermented black beans (finely chopped)

Method
1. Boil 1 cup of water in a pot. Add Su wood and cook until the water turns red. Decant the infusion and let cool.
2. Make a few cuts on the pork without cutting all the way through.
3. Mix the marinade well. Pour over the pork and rub evenly with your hands. Marinate for 5 to 6 hours.
4. Preheat an oven to 225 °C. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and brush oil thinly on it. Put the pork in the baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
5. Warm up the maltose over a pot of simmering water. Brush the maltose evenly over the pork. Bake the pork for 5 more minutes. Let cool slightly. Slice and serve.

Grandpa's Tips
-- If you want your barbecue pork to be fatty, just tell the butcher you want fatty shoulder butt cut.
-- You can get Su wood from Chinese herbal stores. It is a natural red colouring.

--- End of recipe from book ---

My own notes to the recipe above.
Su wood 蘇木 is also known as Sappan wood. I found a listing on Amazon with the picture (Sappan Wood).
Fermented tarocurd is also known as fermented red bean curd.
The Chinese rose wine would be Mei Gui Lu.
For a more gourmet version, you'd probably use Iberico pork butt.

--------------------

For an even more gourmet version of char siu made with iberico pork, refer to this video but it doesn't tell you the exact amounts or even what all 18 ingredients are.

If you are looking to add the dry mandarin skin as shown in the video, it's probably not just any regular dried mandarin skin (chenpi 陳皮). The best quality chenpi is made from the sun-dried ripe peels of tangerines from Xinhui District in China. It's aged at least 3 years but the most fragrant in my opinion is aged around 12-15 years (fruity fragrance). If you can find chenpi aged 5 to 8 years, that's also good stuff. The more aged, the more rare and costly. The really old stuff has a medicinal quality which helps with coughs. I have some chenpi aged 50 years from a vendor in Hong Kong (very expensive). The fragrant is very different as it gains a more earthy rather than fruity smell. Anyways, I'm not an expert on chenpi but I enjoy this ingredient in Chinese cooking.
 

Tristan

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
Messages
608
Reaction score
106
I know what you meant. Looks great. My friend made one from a new barrel he got. Way less finished but he cranks out some great meals.
Ok, I was reacting to the "not easy to do" part, and was just wondering if you thought I meant go build a home made smoker :)
 

DitmasPork

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,570
Reaction score
847
Location
BROOKLYN, NY
I'm a char siew fanatic. What fascinates me is the immense range of char siew, reflecting regional preferences. Impossible to define a right way, or 'authentic' char siew recipe—so long as it tastes good to cook and eater.

In the many recipes for the sweet and savory 'fork roasted' meat, cooking methods and ingredients vary widely. Chinese diaspora resulted in char siew evolving, to reflect local preferences and available ingredients. Non-Chinese ingredients such as ketchup, dry sherry, even Coca-Cola all fine for legit char siew, Chinese cooking sensibilities resourceful in adapting any ingredient to achichieve the desired balance of taste elements. Hoisin popular in the south; Tianmian sauce (sweet bean sauce) not uncommon in the north.

Char siew I grew up eating in Hawaii was always a vivid red from food coloring.

'Char siew' is also both verb and noun—term can mean any protein cooked with a'char siew' seasonings. Indonesian 'chasio' is often made with duck, which makes sense in the predominantly Muslim country; in Hawaii it's not hard to find char siu turkey tails or char siu sausages.

Roasting, braising and wok frying are all common methods for making char siu. Traditional Chinese home kitchens usually didn't have ovens. Some home cooks roast char siew by having the marinated pork strips suspended by meat hooks over a baking pan with some water. In my kitchen it's always baked on Reynold's non-stick foil, the non-stick foil is a godsend for char siew since sugars burn and would be a nightmare on my baking dish.

My personal favorite pork cuts for char siew, in order of preference are pork neck meat, Boston butt, picnic shoulder. If craving fat I' go with pork belly.

Many char siew recipes get their glossiness from a post-roast maltose or honey dip. I personally don't like working with maltose, and too lazy to do a dip.

IMO homemade five spice is magic with char siew, the store bought stuff often flat tasting.

One ingredient that I'm a huge fan of is red fermented bean curd, gives char siu an awesome umami boost and a little funkiness.

For this batch, I was in lockdown, Chinese markets were closed, so I used the sweet, thick, molasses-like Indonesian soy sauce called kecap manis which worked nicely.

Also, thought I'd through in a pic of baked char siew bao I made with Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuit dough. I love making a good sized batch of char siew to do stuff with.


4F2767E6-B22B-4052-85EE-2FEA66E6F545.JPG

50D50F0E-B37D-4F10-84DB-15AABBABBB7E.JPG

D1510D40-77AF-41E4-89F5-31250E3A2320.JPG
457D45DF-719E-43F1-9A95-8E41FF845A13.JPG

361BAB80-8F67-41BA-B5E7-711902DB033C.JPG

B6DA5AAC-AF8B-4AD0-84A1-12E26C500A60.JPG
 

Michi

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2019
Messages
2,894
Reaction score
3,390
Location
Brisbane, Australia
I love making a good sized batch of char siew to do stuff with.
Beautiful images, thank you!

I've made Char Siu a few times, and it came out nice, but lacked complexity and interest. I forget the exact recipe; Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, and five spice were part of it. There may have been one or two other ingredients. At any rate, it looked good and tasted nice, but not really interesting.

Would you mind sharing your recipe and preparation technique?
 

erickso1

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
355
Reaction score
252
Ok, I was reacting to the "not easy to do" part, and was just wondering if you thought I meant go build a home made smoker :)
I've got a Weber Smokey Mountain which would work. Just need to drag it out and give it a whirl.
 

DitmasPork

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,570
Reaction score
847
Location
BROOKLYN, NY
Beautiful images, thank you!

I've made Char Siu a few times, and it came out nice, but lacked complexity and interest. I forget the exact recipe; Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, and five spice were part of it. There may have been one or two other ingredients. At any rate, it looked good and tasted nice, but not really interesting.

Would you mind sharing your recipe and preparation technique?
Please note that this was 'shelter in place cooking,' I had to make do without some ingredients that I usually use, like hoisin. With booze I've used whatever I happen to have, like shaoxing, dry sherry, bourbon, etc. Also, I have a really crappy oven, which probably runs on the hot side.

Usually I'll put together a marinade by taste, lately I've started notating.

For this batch of char siew.
3 lbs of pork
Marinade:
0.25 c soy sauce; 0.25 c oyster sauce; 3 tbsp sugar; 2 tbsp recap manis; 2 cubes red fermented bean curd; 3 tbsp cognac; 3 cloves garlic, chopped; 2.5 tsp five spice; 1 tsp white pepper; 1 stalk scallion, chopped; 2 fried chile de árbol, crumbled (optional, I rarely use chilies in char siew, but tossed these in because they were on hand).

Roasted at 350f for about 40 minutes on non-stick foil, basted with reserved marinade about 15 minutes before done.
 

erickso1

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
355
Reaction score
252
Please note that this was 'shelter in place cooking,' I had to make do without some ingredients that I usually use, like hoisin. With booze I've used whatever I happen to have, like shaoxing, dry sherry, bourbon, etc. Also, I have a really crappy oven, which probably runs on the hot side.

Usually I'll put together a marinade by taste, lately I've started notating.

For this batch of char siew.
3 lbs of pork
Marinade:
0.25 c soy sauce; 0.25 c oyster sauce; 3 tbsp sugar; 2 tbsp recap manis; 2 cubes red fermented bean curd; 3 tbsp cognac; 3 cloves garlic, chopped; 2.5 tsp five spice; 1 tsp white pepper; 1 stalk scallion, chopped; 2 fried chile de árbol, crumbled (optional, I rarely use chilies in char siew, but tossed these in because they were on hand).

Roasted at 350f for about 40 minutes on non-stick foil, basted with reserved marinade about 15 minutes before done.
Are you still able to get ahold of pork neck?
 

DitmasPork

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,570
Reaction score
847
Location
BROOKLYN, NY
Are you still able to get ahold of pork neck?
Yesterday I ventured down to my local Chinatown, to see if markets had reopened. Low and behold, they had just opened up! Meat section looked good, but I only looked at the beef section. I'm assuming they'll have it.
 

Jeezuinn

Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
16
Reaction score
5
Location
Singapore
Char siew is 1 of my absolute favourite food. Its popularity worldwide has also resulted in tons of different intepretations on the recipe.

Pork shoulder is commonly used,but here in Singapore some of us like to use this less known cut called "不见天",which translates into "never sees the sky" because it is basically the pig's armpit area around the front legs. Very nice fat layer for some melt in the mouth goodness.

Maltose is also traditionally use,as opposed to honey. They sound the same in cantonese,so it might have gotten lost in translation. Honey is an easier to handle and purchase option though,and with similar results.

Traditionally they are roasted in a very high heat charcoal oven,but for cooking at home there are many ways to go about it. My aunt loves to braise it in the marinade first,and finish off in the oven. Personally i like to cook at a lower heat in the oven,then crank up to char the sticky glaze.

My go to recipe is this:

500g of pork,cut into thick strips.
50g sugar
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp hoison sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 cube fermented red beancurd
2 tbsp maltose or honey

1. Prick the meat lightly. Mix everything together and marinade. Preferably overnight.

2. Heat oven to 150 celsius. Place pork strips over an oiled wire rack,and place over a foil lined tray(makes cleaning wayyyyyy easier). Add 1/2 cup of water in the tray,cover with foil and bake for 20 mins. Remove foil and bake another 20 mins

3. Reduce the marinade into a thick glaze. Change the oven mode to grill 250 celsius, glaze the charsiew and roast till your preferred char state.
 
Top