How to make Char Siu (Cantonese BBQ Pork) 叉燒

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Char Siu (Cantonese BBQ Pork) 叉燒

Char Siu (Cantonese BBQ Pork) 叉燒 literally means “fork roast.” It is classified as a type of siu mei, Cantonese roasted meat.  Siu Mei establishment is where they specialized in Char Siu, Soy Sauce Chicken, Roast Duck, and Siu Yuk etc.  These shops usually display the meat by hanging them near the window as way to attract customers.  As a result, char siu is often consumed alongside one of these other meat dishes.  If you dine at these establishment, I recommend Three Treasures Rice (三寶飯/San Bao Fan).  Basically what San Bao Fan is you get to choose three roast/stewed meat and sometimes you can add egg, they also give you a little bit of vegetables as a compliment depending on the restaurant.  This usually cost about $8 or $9 with eggs of course.

The basic characteristics of Char Siu is sweet, savory and juicy of course as well as a glossy exterior.  Which is why so many people love Char Siu, but of course every country or region make it differently because they have their own secret ingredients or method of preparing this.

What makes the Char Siu red color.  Well most restaurants use either red food coloring or Red Bean Curd  as way to maintain that red color, mostly likely the former as it is cheaper than Red Bean Curd .  However, there are some restaurants that does not use either of them as a coloring agent because they believe in the natural color of the Char Siu.  Why do restaurants add red food coloring into Char Siu?  My theory is that red color has a more appealing look compare to a red brownish meat.  Think red beef vs. brown beef.  If one has to choose, most people will automatically choose red beef over brown beef.  The same concept applies to pork as well.  Furthermore, red color meat are more visible when siu mei establishment hang it near the window, again attracting customers.

Without further ado, here are the ingredients:
If you click on the links it will show you the brands I used.

Pork Shoulder Butt: 2.25 lb or 1 kg
Soy Sauce: 3/8 cup (6 tbsp) or 90 mL
Sugar: 3/5 cup sugar or 191 g
Mei Kuei Lu Chew/Rose wine: 1/6 cup or 40 mL
LKK Oyster Sauce (18 oz.): 1 tbsp
Koon Chun Hoisin Sauce : 1 tbsp
Ground Bean Sauce : 1 tbsp
Shallot: 1/5 cup or 47 g minced
Salt: 1 tsp
White Pepper: 1 tsp
Five Spice: 1.5 tsp
Ginger Powder: 1 tbsp
Garlic Powder: 1 tbsp
Dark Soy Sauce : 1 tsp
Sesame Oil: 1 tbsp

Maltose: 350g
Brown Sugar: 1/2 cup
Water: 1/2 cup

Oven temperature and cooking time: Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C then turn down the oven to 325 F or 160 C. Cook for 15 min. then take it out and brush the Char Siu with marinade and continue to cook for 10 min.  After 10 min. take it out and brush with the glaze.  Turn oven to 400 F or 200 C and roast for 5-10 min.

*By the way, I meant to say 1 inch is equal to about 3 cm not 3 mm.
I’m human after all, I do make mistake sometimes.  m(_ _)m


Step 1: Cut the pork shoulder/pork belly or pork neck into about 1 inch or 3 cm in thickness.

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Step 2: Add sugar and the wine (rose) and rub it onto the meat then let it marinate for about 3 hours in the fridge.

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Step 3: Mix the salt, garlic powder, ginger powder, white pepper, five spice powder, shallots, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, ground bean sauce and sesame oil together. Pour the mixture over the marinated pork and continue to marinate for 4-6 hours.

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Step 4: Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C then turn it down to 325 F or 160 C and cook the pork for 15 mins.

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Step 5: Take it out and brush some of the marinated sauce on the pork to prevent it from drying out.

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Step 6: Continue to roast the pork for additional 10 mins.

Step 7: Prepare the Glaze. Combine Maltose and/or honey and water in a pot bring to simmer so the maltose will dissolve.

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Step 8: Brush the glaze on the Char Siu and continue to roast at 400 F or 200 C for 5-10 mins to caramelize the glaze.

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Step 9: Pause for a moment and stare at your char siu and salivate.

Step 10: Cut the Char Siu into individual pieces.

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Step 11: Time to chow down!

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  1. Are you sure what you show in your video is 1kg of pork? My butcher supplied me with this same cut and it weighed 2kg… so I doubled the recipe, but the amount of sugar and rose wine seemed extreme, as my pork was swimming in sugar and wine. If I had used 1x the recipe, the amount of sugar and wine on the meat and in the bottom of the pan would have very closely matched what your video shows. Please confirm for me.

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  2. Thank-you… That is good to know… But I’m afraid you didn’t completely answer my question:

    Are you sure that the recipe you show in your video is to make 1kg of meat, and not 2kg?

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  3. Thanks for the detailed video and recipe. I like the extra details you include, like the info on red bean curd. I’m going to try this recipe in a few weeks but on question.. Is your ground bean paste the same as soybean paste (healthy boy brand)? As that is what I have and colour seems similar. :)

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    • Hi Claudia, yes, it’s the same just different company/region call it differently. The ingredients in Koon Chun Ground Bean Paste/Sauce: Water, Soya Bean, Salt, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Sesame Oil and Spices. The ingredients in Heathly boy brand : Yellow bean (soy bean), wheat flour, salt, water, sugar, msg, preservative. There ingredients are very similar to each other. Hope this helps. Generally, any kind of bean paste or fermented bean curd will work for the char siu. As the bean paste gives it an Umami (savory) taste to it.

      Hope this helps.

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  4. Hi there. Great video! Is it ok to leave the pork marinating in the sugar and rose wine mixture overnight? Thanks!

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  5. Is this the same or similar as the cold style BBQ pork served in Chinese restaurants? If not do you have a recipe for that/

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  6. My local Asian markets dont carry rose wine, can you give me the brand of it to order online? Thanks

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  7. Thank you for your recipe. I tried it and it tasted really good. However, when I smelled it, it’s still missing the smell of smoke compared to Restautant char siu. Do you know how to have that smelling? Also, if you dont mind I want to ask if you know how to make chuanr ( chinese spicy cumin lamb skewer). Thank you

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    • Hi Trang le, they use wood or charcoal to smoke their meat. Their smoker is round and they hang the pork inside so when the fat drips on the wood it create that smoky flavor. As for lamb skewer, yes I do but mine is simple. I only use three ingredients, cumin, salt and chili powder.

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      • Could you make a video making cumin lamb skewer please? I have never eat that before but I heard that it’s really popular in China. I found some recipe but some they add lemon, some doesn’t . So I’m not sure what is it flavor since I havent tried it yet.

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    • You can always add a bit of liquid smoke to the marinade.

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  8. Hi Raymond, just recently subscribed to your YouTube channel. Love your videos. For the char Siu, can I use pork shoulder with out the thick skin cut into cubes? To be honest I really wouldn’t know how to explain to my butcher exactly what cut would be needed. Ty

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    • Hi Ashura, the cut that I used in my video is right next to the bone. It should have good proportion of fat in there that way it will prevent the meat from drying up during roasting. You can leave the thick skin off, the reason I didn’t cut it into cubes is because it’s easier to handle.

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  9. Jan Joris Van Lerberghe

    Hi Raymond, thanks a bunch for your recipes and cool commentaries. Thumbs up all the way and I’m going to start trying a few of these soon!

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  10. Pingback: How to Make Char Siu (Cantonese BBQ Pork) 叉燒Viral Raid | Viral Raid

  11. Can you leave it in the marinade longer then 4-6hrs

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  12. Hi! Why the need to marinate with wine & sugar first before adding the rest of the marinate few hours later?
    Thank you!

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