Char siu is a well-loved way of seasoning and spicing up barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. Char siu exactly means “fork roast” in Cantonese, named after the old–fashioned technique used for cooking this dish whereby long pieces of flavoured boneless pork are skewered with long forks and roast in an enclosed oven or above a wood or charcoal fire. Char siu together with roasted pork belly or roasted pork and roasted duck are classified as Cantonese roasted meat or siu mei.
Today, char siu is usually a cut of pork shoulder, but pork butt, pork neck and pork belly are also commonly used. Another popular cut used is pork fillet. These cuts are then marinated with a sauce mixture of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese five spice powder, honey, fermented red bean sauce and hoisin sauce, rice wine plus some red food colouring added to make the char siu red in colour. Maltose is also applied to give char siu its typical glossy glaze. For my gluten free recipe, I am using pork fillets marinated in a sauce mixture of gluten free light soy sauce, gluten free dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, Chinese five spice powder, honey, pale or medium dry sherry and a hint of ground paprika. My shiny glaze for the exterior of the char siu is made up of honey and dark brown sugar.
In general, char siu is eaten together with some carbohydrates like rice called “cha siu fan”, with wonton dumplings noodles called “cha siu wonton mein” or just char siu and noodles called “cha siu mein”), and as fillings within a bun called “cha siu baau”. Char siu fan, cha siu wonton mein and char siu mein are typically available as street foods or hawker foods and chain restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Char siu rice is also served with cucumber slices or blanched choy sum and char siu sauce on top of the steamed rice. While cha siu bun is normally consumed as part of dim sum during yum cha. Char siu can also be served by itself as a main dish or served together with roasted pork and roasted duck in family restaurants in Asia as well as in Chinese restaurants all over the world. If char siu is purchased as a take away from Chinese specialty restaurants selling siu mei or Cantonese roasted meat, it is generally used for home dishes like yong chow fried rice or included as an ingredient in many vegetable or meat dishes that utilises char siu.
- 1.5 kg 3.3Ib pork fillets, trimmed
- 2 bunches choy sum washed and cut into 8cm in length
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Steamed rice to serve
For the Marinade:
- ⅓ cup 350ml rice bran oil
- 50 ml water
- 2 tablespoons gluten free light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons gluten free thick soy sauce kecap manis (refer relevant recipe)
- 2 tablespoons gluten free oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons gluten free hoisin sauce
- 4 tablespoons pale or medium dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
For the Glaze:
- 5 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 50 ml water
For the Sauce (400ml):
- Reserve sauce in baking tray after cooking the barbecue pork
- 2 tablespoons gluten free corn maize flour mix with 2 tablespoons (30ml) water
- 5 tablespoons 75ml water or more if required
- Combine and mix all the marinade in a large bowl and marinade the pork fillets. Place the marinaded pork in an airtight container or place and seal in a ziplock bag. Leave in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 3 to 4 hours.
- Preheat fan forced oven to 170C or 338F. Line a deep baking tray with 2 layers of baking or parchment paper.
- Place the pork fillets onto the baking tray. Brush some of the marinade onto the top side of the pork and reserve the rest of the marinade for basting during roasting.
- Roast the pork fillets in the oven for 25 minutes on each side, brush the reserved marinade half way through roasting each side of the pork fillets.
For the glazing:
- Prepare and mix the glazing sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- At the end of roasting each side, brush the honey glaze generously. Then roast at 160C or 320F for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
- Remove the pork fillets from the baking tray and place on a large plate to rest.
For the sauce:
- Carefully pour all the sauce in the baking tray through a fine sieve into a measuring cup.
- Add the corn (maize) flour mixture and 75ml water for the sauce into the measuring cup, you need total of 400ml sauce mixture. Add more water if required.
- Pour the 400ml sauce mixture into a small pot, mix well and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat once boiled. This is the serving sauce for the barbecue pork.
For cooking the choy sum:
- Heat up a pot half filled with water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and briefly blanch the choy sum together with the extra virgin olive oil for 2 minutes or until the choy sum turns bright green in colour.
- Thinly slice the barbecue pork.
- Serve the barbecue pork together with the sauce, some blanched choy sum and steamed rice.
6 thoughts on “Chinese Barbecue Pork Rice (Char Siu Fan)”
Thank you for this! I love the background that accompanies the dish.
Do you know what the sauce is that’s usually poured over the rice when served with the pork? It’s different than char siu and seems to be soy based.
The sauce for serving with the rice and char siu is normally made with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, Chinese cooking wine like Shaoxing wine or dry sherry and Chinese 5 spice powder. 🙂
I’m sending this straight over to my husband – he loves barbecued pork!
Bon appétit to your husband. 🙂
That’s a very beautifully laid out plate of food Daphne. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to get my rice to look so appealing.
Thanks for your nice comment Choclette! 🙂