Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cantonese Pork, Char Siu

Cantonese Char Siu literally means, “Fork burned”. The traditional preparation, pork meat is marinated, skewered, and barbecued over a fire to a charred, savory, and sticky sweet perfection. For the pork belly, try to get pork belly that is leaner than bacon. Look for thick layers of much marbled meat with thin layers of fat between. Char Siu is traditionally seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, red food coloring,  Shao Hsing wine (substitute sherry) or rice wine. Spare ribs are also often used in Cantonese cooking.
Char Sui (Roast Pork)

Variations of the sauce:
Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and/or 1 tablespoon minced ginger
Add more Chinese 5-spice powder
Replace half of the hoisin sauce with pineapple juice
Use both black soy sauce1 and dark soy in equal proportions
Add 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
Add 1 tablespoon hot bean paste for a spicier marinade.
Substitute Japanese Mirin for the Shao Hsing wine.
Instead of pork, use pork spareribs and grill over a charcoal fire.
Baste with honey during last 10 minutes to give the meat an attractive glaze
Often Maltose (malt sugar) is used instead of honey

If using shoulder or butt, cut pork into even size pieces so they marinate well and cook evenly. Marinate meat in the liquids (except honey or maltose) and spices for several hours in the refrigerator. Reserve the honey or maltose for the last 15 minutes as a glaze. Roast meat on a rack or spits over a tin foil lined pan at 350 F for 30 minutes. Turn over and roast until tender.  Do not dry out by over-roasting. Baste with honey. Turn on broiler, and broil on high until nicely colored. Watch like a hawk, it is easy to burn due to its sugar content.

Lee Kum Kee Char Siu Sauce
Alternatively, use Lee Kum Kee Char Siu Sauce as is, right out of the bottle. This sauce is very authentic and is seasoned with Chinese 5-spice. Paint one side of the meat and roast on a rack so it will not sit in its own juices. After 30 minutes, remove from oven, turn pieces over, and paint other side with sauce. Roast until tender. Turn on broiler, and broil on high until nicely colored. Watch like a hawk, it is easy to burn due to sugar content.

For a slightly different recipe, see Cici's Version: 

Lee Kum Kee Char Siu Sauce made in China

Ingredients: White sugar, water, salt, garlic, fermented soybean paste (Water, salt, soybean, wheat), honey, soy sauce, malt syrup, corn starch, Chinese 5-spice, vinegar, food coloring.

Healthy Boy Black Soy
Notes: 1. Black soy contains molasses and is somewhat sweet. I use  Healthy Boy brand, which is made in Thailand. To make your own black soy or thick soy sauce, use equal parts soy sauce and molasses

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