Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

I must guiltily admit: I know this is wrong. Perhaps craziness got the better of us but we really want to make char siu. When it comes to cooking char siu, the more traditional method of hanging the pork over a charcoal burner or barbecue gives it a greater depth of smoky flavour. Sweet, succulent and insanely delicious – not to mention those “delectable just-burnt bits”. We took out the grill. We are barbecuing indoors again. Any normal sane mom will turn us over and give us a hefty smack on the butt if she found out. It's a something we do now with me and my brother whenever mom happened to be on vacation. So we have enough time to air the house for a few days. She would not know a thing.
Barbecue reminded me of my last year in Shanghai. I moved to Pudong, into the suburbs, far away from the noisy, cramp city center, where the pace was slower and roads filled with beautiful greeneries and huge open space. It didn’t take much to go out into the lake. I was lucky to find really good neighbors. They are spontaneous and heaps of fun too. In Spring with the warmer weather, we would go to the lake and barbecue, bringing our dogs along so that they can run and swim freely. 

A few months ago, I bought the bodum picnic charcoal grill. Relishing on the fond memories. I want to barbecue again then. As days when on, the grill was put aside so was the idea, hidden at the back of the store room. I remembered it's a Wednesday afternoon because he's off, my brother called me to come home for dinner early. He had a fun surprise he said. Anticipating what was install, I left work on the dot. Coming home to find out that he have built the pit in the kitchen with fans set up beside it to blow out the smoke. I couldn't stop smiling. Without questioning on fire hazards, I went on to skewer the kebabs while he throw the steak on the grill. In fact, barbecuing is surprisingly easy, the charcoal is lighted quickly with the help of the stove. There we were, gathered in the kitchen by a window and grilling around the pit with our furry dogs beside us. I believe it's similar to how Korean barbecue at home on the dinning table. Except that ours grill is about 3 times bigger.

To start, you need a good cut of pork. The well-muscled and flavoursome neck or shoulder cuts work best here, because these pieces are neither too fatty nor too lean. That is, they have enough fat to prevent them from drying out, yet they’re less fatty than pork belly, which can be too rich in this dish.

1.5kg pork but or pork neck- In large long strips cuts, skinless, about 4cm thick
200g malt sugar (麦芽糖) or honey
60ml water
200g sugar
4 tablespoon Chinese rose wine or Shaoxing wine
4 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon black soya
3 large pieces red fermented bean curd 
1 tablespoons soy sauce
3 dashes white pepper powder
½ teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
Some red food coloring (optional)
2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallot

Add all ingredients in the char siu sauce in a sauce pan except the garlic and shallots, heat it up and stir-well until all blended and become slightly thickened and sticky. Transfer out and let cool.

Marinate the pork butt pieces with the char siu sauce marinate and the chopped garlic and shallot overnight. 

Once ready, fire up the barbecue and grill until cook basting the pork while grilling.

Alternatively, preheat oven at 200˚C. Place the marinated pork strips on roasting rack. Make sure foiled the basement tray to capture the dripping sauce during the roasting process. This also will help in easy cleaning. Bake the pork for approximately 10 minutes and turn the pork over to coat with the marinade. Continue to bake for another 20 -25 mins. You should get some nice shiny glaze and caramelisation happening, and your pork should be just cooked through. I love bits of charred edges on a char siew and therefore, tend to leave it a couple of minutes longer in the oven.

For the char siu sauce, strain and cook the remaining marinated sauce over low heat. Do stir constantly and cook until the sauce become thick. This will take about 5-8 minutes. 

Remove and leave to rest about 5-10 minutes. Slice the “char siew” and serve with the sauce. Enjoy!

- till next post, ss. 

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