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Chinese Barbecue Pork Rice (Char Siu Fan)

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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.


gf Char Siu with Choy Sum and Steamed Rice



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.


Gluten Free Char Siu with Choy Sum and Steamed Rice


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.


Char Siu with Choy Sum and Steamed Rice



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6 Responses

  1. Natalie
    | Reply

    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.

    • daphnegoh
      | Reply

      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. :)

  2. kate @veggie desserts
    | Reply

    I’m sending this straight over to my husband – he loves barbecued pork!

    • daphnegoh
      | Reply

      Bon appétit to your husband. :)

  3. Choclette
    | Reply

    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.

    • daphnegoh
      | Reply

      Thanks for your nice comment Choclette! :)

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