A delicious and simple recipe with step-by-step photos for Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) which you can make at home with everyday pantry ingredients in just 10 minutes!
Char Siu Pork
One thing I miss about living in Australia is being able to visit the local Chinatown, whether it be for a traditional Dim Sum breakfast, a browse through the colourful aisles of the Vietnamese grocer, or a visit to the Chinese bakery for their light and fluffy cakes.
Something I deeply miss are the restaurants where you can buy one of the Chinese roast ducks on display, as well as their crispy pork belly, or the ever popular Chinese barbecue pork (also known as char siu pork).
There is no Chinatown in Zurich. In fact, the Asian population here is very scant, but we are lucky to have a few amazing Chinese and Vietnamese grocers, as well as a growing number of south-east Asian restaurants.
That said, I still miss being able to pop into Chinatown to pick up something for a quick dinner. I miss being able to rely on good Chinese takeaway food, and I miss, quite simply, good Chinese takeaway food.
I have always felt that moving to Switzerland made me a better cook. In the absence of being able to buy many food items which I used to enjoy back in Australia, I have had to slowly learn how to recreate most of those dishes at home. Chinese barbecue pork, or char siu pork, is one of those dishes.
And like so many other things which I have re-created at home, making your own Chinese barbecue pork is incredibly easy, and the results are so delicious that this will become a regular dish in your home!
What is Char Siu Sauce?
A char siu sauce is a mix of various Asian pantry ingredients, including soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, and Chinese five-spice powder. I like to add grated fresh ginger to my marinade for a bit of warm heat.
The Chinese barbecue pork that you find in most Chinese restaurants often has a tinge of red in the meat, either from using red fermented tofu in the marinade, or from red food colouring.
Red fermented tofu can be tricky to find, depending on where you live, so my recipe below uses ingredients which are more readily available in most mainstream supermarkets, thus saving you a trip to a specialist Asian grocery store.
Although, if you have easy access to the latter, I highly recommend buying your Asian pantry ingredients there as the brands which they stock are more authentic in taste.
What Cut of Meat to Use for Char Siu Pork
The cut of meat I like to use for Chinese barbecue pork is pork tenderloin, simply because it is easy for the children to eat, and also because we love the succulence and tenderness of the cut.
How to Make Char Siu Pork
This char siu pork recipe is so easy that I frequently make this for dinner during the busy week.
Simply mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl.
Place the pork tenderloin pieces in a large zip-lock freezer bag, and pour over the marinade. I generally prefer to marinate meat in zip-lock freezer bags as it ensures that the meat will be evenly coated.
For this char siu recipe, it is best the marinate the meat overnight for maximum flavour. But I have made this recipe several times in a pinch, and even one hour of marinating will still give good results.
To cook the char siu pork, I like to roast it in the oven over a pan of boiling water. The water helps to create steam in the oven, which helps to keep the pork moist while it is roasting.
To do this, simply place a wire rack over a roasting tray, and half fill the tray with boiling water.
But if you don’t have a wire rack to use like in the photos below, you can also simply roast the meat directly on the tray. In which case, you should first line the tray with aluminium foil to allow for easier cleaning later (the sugars in the marinade will burn easily).
The meat should sit on the wire rack above the tray, and it should not be in contact with the water below.
Pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan, together with 2 tablespoons of honey. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it is thick and syrupy.
Use the sauce to baste the pork every 10 minutes or so. I like to apply a thick layer of sauce each time to give extra flavour, and to help with the caramelisation.
Once you have roasted the pork for about 30 minutes (and you should have basted the pork about 3 times during this period), turn the oven onto broil (or grill).
Position the meat as close as possible to the grill, and let it caramelise until it is lovely and golden brown. Baste generously every 3 to 5 minutes, and watch the meat carefully so that it doesn’t burn.
What to Serve with Char Siu Pork
My family love this Chinese barbecue pork served simply with steamed Jasmine rice and some steamed Chinese greens on the side (pak choi or Chinese broccoli work really well here).
At other times, we love to fill steamed bao buns with slices of Chinese barbecue pork with some quick pickled carrots and quick pickled cucumbers. Please see my recipe for Sticky Pork Bao Buns for full details.
To make your own homemade bao buns, please see my easy recipe for bao buns with step-by-step photos.
More Chinese Recipes
If you love Chinese food, you might also enjoy the following Chinese recipes:Print
Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)
A delicious and simple recipe for Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) which you can make at home with everyday pantry ingredients in just 10 minutes!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 50 mins
- Yield: Serves 4
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Asian
For the marinade
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons runny honey
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
- 1 inch (2 cm) knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated
For the Chinese Barbecue Pork
- 2 tablespoons runny honey (extra for the glaze)
- 2 pieces of pork tenderloin, approx 1 lb (500 g) each
- Place all of the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Place the pork into a large ziplock freezer bag and pour the marinade inside. Make sure the pork is well-coated in the marinade.
- Place the bag into the fridge and leave it to marinate for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight.
- When you are ready to roast the pork, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature in the marinade (this will take about 30 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) (without fan).
- Place a wire rack over a large roasting tray and half fill the tray with boiling water. The rack needs to be high enough so that, when the meat is sitting on top of the rack, the meat should not touch the water. The water helps to create a steam in the oven to cook the pork and to keep it moist.
- Place the pork on the wire rack.
- Do not discard the marinade in the freezer bag.
- Roast the pork for about 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so (see next step).
- Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and add the extra 2 tablespoons of honey. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer gently for a few minutes until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Use this sauce to baste the pork.
- After 30 minutes, turn the oven to grill (or broil) mode on high heat. If possible, place the tray as high as possible in the oven under the grill. Baste the pork generously every 3-5 minutes, making sure that it is browning nicely and doesn’t burn. Once the pork has caramelised nicely, remove the tray from the oven.
- Let the pork rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
COOKING WITH PORK
The size and thickness of pork tenderloin can vary greatly, so you may need to adjust your cooking times accordingly.
COOKING MEAT PERFECTLY
The best way to check if the meat is perfectly cooked is to use a digital meat thermometer. Simply insert the needle into the thickest part of the meat, and the temperature should read between 145-160°F (60-70°C) for well-cooked pork.
If you don’t have a wire rack, simply roast the pork directly on the roasting tray, but line it with aluminium foil for easier cleaning later.
You can marinate the meat ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
- Serving Size: 4
- Calories: 337
- Sugar: 31.9g
- Sodium: 543.3mg
- Fat: 10.8g
- Carbohydrates: 36.2g
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Protein: 24.9g
- Cholesterol: 74.1mg
This post was originally published on 23 March 2017. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.