Char Siu (Roasted Chinese BBQ Pork)

20 Dec

Char siu (蜜汁叉烧, literally “fork burn/roast”) is a famous Chinese roast pork dish. Not only is it served on its own, but it is commonly found in fried rice, noodle soups, and steamed buns (char siu bao/manapua).

Today this dish is often made with maltose, which is a malt sugar made from barley. Honey is a suitable substitute, and still used by many chefs as well. Also, many restaurants will use red dye to simulate that signature red roasted look – we’re going for the real deal in this recipe.

You’ll Need:
1 lb of pork cubes, pork shoulder, or pork belly
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp gluten free hoisin sauce
1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
1 tbsp Chinese rose wine or Chinese cooking wine (brandy works too)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil
ten 8-10″ bamboo skewers

Combine all of the ingredients except the pork and skewers in a saucepan. Heat on med/low for about five to ten minutes, stirring everything together until it thickens. Set it aside and allow it to cool.

The cut of pork you wish to use is up to you; if you get pork belly, try and get the meatiest cut you can. You definitely want to get something that’s fairly well marbled, and something that’s super lean like pork loin will just taste like pork jerky. Regardless of the cut, be sure to cut off the skin and cut the pork into chunks about 1″ in size.

Once the sauce is cool, put half of it in a gallon-sized ziploc bag with the pork pieces. Put the other half of the sauce in a container and then put both the pork and the sauce in the fridge overnight.

The next day, soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes, then skewer the pork chunks.

Preheat the grill for about 10 minutes on med/high heat. Turn off the heat on one side of the grill, and place the skewers on the unheated side. Grill using indirect heat for an hour, turning the skewers after 30 minutes. Your optimal grill temp should be around 250-300 degrees. During the last 30 minutes, take out your reserved char siu sauce and allow it to warm to room temperature.

Lastly, char the pork skewers on direct (medium) heat for a few minutes, brushing on the char siu sauce as it cooks. That’s it! Take the pork off the skewers and serve immediately.

17 Responses to “Char Siu (Roasted Chinese BBQ Pork)”

  1. Christine December 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Oh lord! My boyfriend has been raving about char siu pork for years but I’ve never been able to find a recipe that fit our paleo/hybrid way of life! Thanks for sharing!


  2. sometimesisleep April 23, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    This looks great! I love char sui with hot mustard. Can’t wait to try it.

    • paleonovice June 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Ok so my step dad is Asian and we would have this every New Years. Your version tastes exactly like the one we get every year. I have been trying a lot of your recipes lately and rave about the on fb with my group. You have really made the transition to Paleo/Gluten free a breeze. Now my hubby scours the recipes, posts them on my fb with a Please? next to it lol.

      • Russ Crandall June 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

        Awesome, happy to hear you guys are enjoying the recipes!

  3. Christina January 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    This sounds amazing, but I do not have a gas grill, so I cannot really implement this indirect heat process. Do you have any advice for cooking this using a charcoal grill? I would greatly appreciate it!

    • Russ Crandall January 31, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      Christina, it’s even easier on a charcoal grill – just bank the charcoal to one side of the grill, and put the pork on the other side.

  4. SIGMATE February 2, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    Cool recipe! I like the char situ with a little bit of fat. :)

  5. Hungry Hubs February 3, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    This is going to be the next recipe I try. May be next weekend. Thank you Russ for the creative ideas. I’m curious, if I use Orange Blossom Honey, will it start tasting like an Orange Chicken recipe?

    • Russ Crandall February 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

      It’ll definitely impart a bit of a citrus taste, but nowhere near what you’d expect from Orange Chicken. I say go for it.

      • Hungry Hubs March 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

        Finally went grocery shopping yesterday for all the Asian ingredients. The pork shoulder was $2 per lb. nice price. I trusted your instructions about not getting fat free pork loin. The marinade was excellent.

        I deviated a little bit by using steel skewers, and did 20 mins on one side and 10 mins on the flip side.

        I tried and failed at cooking pork ten years ago and didn’t try it since.

        I’m happy to say that your recipe is my first successful pork meal.
        Very cool. Thank you for the recipe background history too. It was part of the dinner conversation.

        • Russ Crandall March 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

          Awesome, glad it turned out! Metal skewers are great.

  6. Chantal Boulianne February 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Oh wow! I made a giant batch of this and I can’t stop eating it. It’s better than the stuff I get in china town! Thank you for such a great recipe!


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