This Chinese BBQ pork recipe creates a melt-in-your-mouth food experience! Also known as char siu pork, this tender meat dish is a tasty combination of spicy and sweet flavors.
Chinese barbecue pork seems to be everywhere lately – and for good reason! It’s a Cantonese dish called char siu, which translates literally to “fork roasted.” Traditionally, the dish is prepared by skewering seasoned meat with large forks and cooking it over an open flame. While this recipe doesn’t involve any large forks or an open fire, you can use your BBQ to cook your own char siu pork at home.
I first had this in a dim sum house in Hong Kong and later at my favorite, Jasmine, in San Diego, California. A lady would come by with a rolling cart of this beautiful, charred red pork and it was a dim sum breakfast must have!
My Chinese BBQ pork recipe goes great with noodles, rice, or vegetables like bok choy. You’ll want to use my Five Spice Powder in your marinade for the spicy punch I know you’re after. Before you get started, you may want to make sure that your pantry is stocked with these Chinese spices and staples!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Boneless pork shoulder - Most char siu pork recipes call for a shoulder cut since it is fattier than other cuts. However, there are several more options that work just as well - you can find more about them further down in the post.
- Marinade - Your marinade is made up of sugar, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, hoisin sauce, molasses, salt, Five Spice Powder (more on that later), white pepper, and sesame oil. These spices and sauces come together to bring you a flavorful marinade filled with heat. You can add a bit of red food coloring here as well if you’d like, but it’s optional.
- Shaoxing rice wine - A type of Chinese cooking wine made from rice. It has a complex and slightly sweet flavor.
- Hoisin sauce - A Cantonese sauce made from fermented soybean paste. It combines umami, sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors for a result similar to barbecue sauce.
- Five Spice Powder - My Five Spice Powder is packed to the brim with flavor, and it’s a lot less expensive to make it yourself than heading to a specialty Chinese supermarket! My recipe boasts all of the five culinary tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.
- Honey - Use honey as a baste to add some sweetness to all of that spice.
HOW TO MAKE THIS CHINESE BBQ PORK RECIPE
- Prepare the Meat. Cut your pork vertically into 2 long strips, about 3 inches thick.
- Marinate. Combine all of the marinade ingredients into a small bowl and carefully whisk. Wearing gloves, rub the shoulder pieces with the marinade in a large bowl. Cover the meat and leave it in the refrigerator overnight, for at least 8 hours.
- Preheat. Preheat your oven or grill to 500 degrees F. I like to use my grill to avoid filling my kitchen with any smoke, which can often happen with an oven. If you do use an oven, add a cup of water to your rimmed baking sheet to avoid fat dripping, which causes smoke.
- Cook: Round One. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a metal rack on top. Spray the rack with cooking spray to avoid sticking. Place the marinated shoulder on the rack, leaving space between pieces. Roast uncovered for 25 minutes.
- Cook: Round Two. Use tongs to carefully turn the meat and roast for another 10 minutes. Turn again, apply the baste to one side, and roast for 10 minutes more. Turn over one last time, baste, and cook for the final 5 minutes. Pork should have an internal temp of 145 degrees F when done.
- Let the Meat Rest & Serve. Allow your Chinese barbecue pork to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Chinese BBQ pork recipe video
Want to see how to make the best char siu pork? Just watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Why is Chinese Barbecue Pork Red?
Char siu pork gets its red color thanks to the marinade used to cook it. An authentic char siu recipe is made with fermented red bean curds (Nam yue). The red bean curds don’t have a lot of flavor, so it’s easy to prepare this recipe without it.
You can find this specialty ingredient in Asian supermarkets, or you can simply add a bit of red food coloring to get the crimson hue you’re looking for.
What is Char Siu Sauce Made of?
If you’re in a crunch and don’t have time to prepare your own marinade, you can find the sauce premade in any Cantonese or Asian supermarket. It typically contains sugar, water, salt, fermented soybean paste, honey, soy sauce, malt syrup, modified corn starch, garlic, and various spices.
It’s almost always worth it to prepare your own. Plus, you don’t have to worry about consuming those less-than-appealing ingredients such as modified corn starch and excess syrups.
Can I Use Pork Tenderloin?
You can use tenderloin for this Chinese BBQ pork recipe, but I do recommend that you opt for a fattier cut. This cut can sometimes be a bit too lean. The best cuts to use in this char siu recipe is pork butt, pork shoulder, or pork belly. In this case, the fattier, the better!
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes Dec. 01, 2020, has been updated with new content on Jan. 31, 2022.
Chinese BBQ Pork Recipe + Video
- 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon honey
- cilantro leaves
- Cut the pork vertically into 2 long strips about 3 inches thick.
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and carefully whisk until sugar is dissolved and marinade is smooth.
- Using gloves, rub the pork with the marinade in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, at least 8 hours.
- Preheat your oven or grill to 500°F (See Note 1). Remove pork from refrigerator.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a metal rack on top. Spray the rack with cooking spray to avoid sticking. Remove marinated pork, gently shaking off excess and place the pork on the rack, leaving and inch or two between pieces. Roast uncovered for 25 minutes.
- To the reserved marinade add the honey and mix well. This will be your basting sauce. Set aside.
- After 25 minutes, use tongs and carefully turn the pork. Roast another 10 minutes.
- After 35 minutes of roasting baste each pork strip, turn it over and baste the other side. Roast for a final 10 minutes. Turn one more time and baste again. Roast for a final 5 minutes (See Note 2).
- Remove from the oven/grill allow meat to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
- I like to use my grill or smoker to keep an even temperature and avoid the kitchen getting a little smokey over using the oven. If using the oven, add a cup or two of water to the rimmed baking sheet with rack to avoid fat dripping and causing smoke. Be sure water is not touching pork and check often to add more if needed.
- Pork should have an internal temp of 145°F when instant read thermometer is inserted.
- Recipe adapted from Woks of Life.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.