Char Siu (Roasted Chinese BBQ Pork)

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 thoughts on “Char Siu (Roasted Chinese BBQ Pork)

  1. 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!

    Christine

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    1. 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.

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  2. 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!

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  3. 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?

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      1. 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.

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