Sugar high on Char Siu 叉烧 (Cantonese BBQ pork)

“Mummyyyy~~~I don’t like zucchini~~There’s mushroom in this~~~ I’m not hungry~~~”

Yeap. I’ve got picky eaters. Both of them. Lucky me. And I don’t understand why. They’ve always eaten everything and anything as babies. Then one day, a switch in their brains got flipped and suddenly they absolutely can’t stand the thought of putting even the tiniest cauliflower floret into their cute little mouths.

Still, even the pickiest eaters have their weaknesses. Sugar is usually one of them and there is a whole lot of sugar in this one.

Char Siu

I mean, who doesn’t like Char Siu? No one. It’s sweet and sticky and fatty and flavourful. And those charred bits………damn I’m drooling.

It took me seven years to perfect this recipe. SEVEN!! I tried so many different recipes and they were never quite right. But then again, I’ve been away for so long I don’t know what’s right anymore. If you’re looking to make Char Siu like the red ones you get with your Wanton Mee, this is not it. This is more like the filling of your Char Siu Bao. Closer to the ones you get at the Cantonese restaurants.  

Char Siu

The secret to the shine of the dish is Maltose. Remember when we were kids and we would buy maltose candy (Ding Ding Tang) on a stick from the sweet old candyman? This is the base for it and it is a crucial ingredient. It’s also what makes the pork so sticky. This recipe also calls for Nam Yee (red fermented bean curd). I love the stuff. It adds so much flavour and it gives the meat a subtle hint of red, which is the signature colour of the dish. I don’t use any food colouring because I’ve never felt the need to, but if you like, you can always add 2-3 drops of red colouring. It won’t show much in the marinade but you’ll see it once the meat is cooked.

You can also cook this outside on the grill, which we do in summer. Just be careful not to burn  or overcook it.

Char Siu

Char Siu  叉烧

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 kg pork shoulder / belly
Marinade
  • 1 Tbsp maltose
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp shao xing wine
  • 1½ Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 cube nam yee (red fermented bean curd), mashed (approx. 1½ tsp)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp five spice powder
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Place maltose, light & dark soy sauce and wine in a pan over low heat. Heat until maltose is dissolved and set aside to cool.
  • Add in all remaining ingredients for marinade and mix well.
  • Cut meat into long strips, about 3 – 4 cm thick, and marinate overnight in refrigerator.
  • An hour before cooking, remove meat from the refrigerator.
  • Drain meat of marinade and place meat on an aluminium baking tray or rack*.
  • Preheat oven to 200ºC on grill, fan assisted. (220ºC without fan)
  • Place meat on second rack of the oven and grill for 30 mins, turning and basting every 10 mins.
  • Remove meat from heat and allow to rest for 10 mins before slicing.
For Sauce
    • Strain marinade into a pan and bring to boil. Simmer until sauce thickens.
Char Siu
*Use baking paper under the rack for easy clean up. Burnt sugar is a b**** to clean. Use disposable aluminium baking trays for even easier clean up.
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2 thoughts on “Sugar high on Char Siu 叉烧 (Cantonese BBQ pork)

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