Main Courses

Char Siu

Posted: March 1

Time: 8 hours 50 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

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Char Siu is a Chinese style of barbecued pork renowned for its gorgeous red color and its unbelievable taste. The pork is fatty, meaty, and savory, and the taste is elevated by the sweet, tangy, and garlicky marinade. Char Siu rewards patience and preparation with pork that blows other barbecue dishes out of the water and makes enough so you can enjoy the leftovers for days afterward. You can eat this over fried or white rice, but you'll be immediately tempted to eat it on its own.


3 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt, boneless and with good fat
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons molasses
1/8 teaspoon red food coloring, optional
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 cups water, plus 1 tablespoon hot water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons maltose or honey


Step 1

Slice the pork into 2-3-inch strips or chunks. Leave the fat on the pork.

Step 2

Combine the sugar, salt, five-spice powder, white pepper, sesame oil, wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, molasses, food coloring, and garlic in a bowl.

Step 3

Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the marinade mixture and set it aside.

Step 4

In a large bowl or baking dish, rub the pork with the remaining marinade on all sides.

Step 5

Cover the bowl or baking dish and let the meat marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to overnight. Make sure you cover and store the reserved marinade in the fridge as well!

Step 6

Move an oven rack to the upper third position.

Step 7

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Step 8

Line a sheet pan with foil.

Step 9

Place a metal roasting rack on top of the prepared sheet pan.

Step 10

Place the pork on the rack, with as much space as possible between the slices.

Step 11

Pour 1 1/2 cups water into the pan below the rack.

Step 12

Roast the pork for 25 minutes, adjusting the temperature to 375 degrees F after 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the pork as you roast it to prevent burning.

Step 13

Flip the pork and rotate the pan 180 degrees to ensure even roasting. If the water at the bottom of the pan has completely evaporated, add more.

Step 14

Roast for 15 minutes.

Step 15

Combine the reserved marinade with the maltose and 1 tablespoon hot water.

Step 16

Baste the pork on both sides and then flip it.

Step 17

Roast the pork until cooked through, reading 145 degrees F at the thickest part and caramelized on top, about 10 minutes.

Step 18

Remove the pork from the oven and baste it with any remaining sauce.

Step 19

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before serving!

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