Sticky Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siew): This is Mum’s Char Siew recipe with no MSG and no food colouring. Look how juicy and succulent the Char Siew is! My absolute favourite are the little sticky glazed bits with a slightly charred, smoky flavour. Simply heavenly…
For all those dry wonton mee lovers out there, here’s the recipe for Char Siew (Sticky Chinese BBQ Pork) to get along with your wonton noodles! For me, whenever I eat wonton noodles, having some Char Siew to go along with the dish is a MUST that I cannot miss out! So today I’m posting Mum’s delicious Char Siew recipe.
Which Cut of Meat?
For Char Siew, the cut of meat used is very important – the most fat content, the more juicy (but more unhealthy!) the Char Siew will be. I know some people prefer to use more fatty cuts of pork like Pork Belly or Pork Armpit (known colloquially as Bu Jian Tian 不见天 because that body part of the pig “never sees the sky” – yes our local butchers do have a sense of humour!)
However at home, we usually stick to the Pork Shoulder (known as Wu Hua Rou 五花肉, which means 5-flower meat because of the marbling on the pork shoulder close to the neck) because it has the right balance of fats and meat to suit our family’s tastes.
You may have thought all along that this popular cut of meat is long and thin, just like what you see in at the food stalls selling Roast Meats. But in fact the cut of meat is more squarish / rectangular in shape, and in order to get the meat into one long thin strip, you just have to make a few partial cuts in the meat from alternating directions like the picture below. This is one handy trick that I learnt from my Mum!
After marinating the meat, you can put it in the oven to grill for half an hour. I prefer to use my trusty Turbo Broiler which is much smaller, portable and easier to clean. Turbo Broilers or Turbo Ovens are a great alternative if you don’t have your own oven – I use it very often to make Roast Chicken and Siew Yoke (Crispy Pork Belly) and they always turn out really crispy and evenly cooked!
During the grilling, don’t forget to occasionally bast the Char Siew with the gravy and maltose, which is what gives the Char Siew that glossy sticky glaze. Basters are so useful and really inexpensive – you can easily add one to your shopping cart in your next Amazon purchase.
Look at how juicy and succulent the Char Siew turned out! I especially love to eat the charred bits of the Char Siew because of it has that slightly smoky aroma which I love! I hope you enjoyed today’s recipe.
Update 27 Jul 2017
We redid this dish using Mum’s favourite Cheong Chan Elephant Brand dark soy sauce (also known as cooking caramel, which we ran out of the last time we were cooking Char Siew. We used another brand of dark soy sauce but it turned out to be more salty and very dark coloured, so it made all the food look too dark. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the photos, so we decided to do Take 2.
Look at the result of our take 2 photo shoot! This char siew looks so beautiful that I had to share with all of you! Can you believe that its exactly the same recipe, except for the change in dark soy sauce brand? Taste-wise, its the same actually. But I definitely give plus points to Take 2, because of the more beautiful and appetising colour of the Char Siu!
Please leave us a comment below if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback for us!
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Egg-Free: No modifications needed.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free sauces where appropriate.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.
This is Mum's Char Siew recipe with no MSG and no food colouring. Look how juicy and succulent the Char Siew is! My absolute favourite are the little sticky glazed bits with a slightly charred, smoky flavour. Simply heavenly...
- 700 gm Pork Shoulder (Wu Hua Rou)
- 1 1/4 tsp Salt
- 4 TBsp Sugar
- 2 tsp Light Soya Sauce
- 70-80 ml Water
- 3/4 tsp Dark Soya Sauce (Elephant Brand) Also known as Cooking Caramel
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 3-4 TBsp Maltose
Wash the pork and pat dry.
Cut the pork into 3 or 4 strips (depending on the size of the pork) in a zig zag manner to form one long continuous strip without cutting through to the ends.
In a plastic container, add in all the marinade ingredients except the maltose. Give it a stir and mix well until the sugar dissolves.
Put the pork into the marinade and coat it well. Leave it for at least 7 hours or overnight in the fridge, turning it occasionally.
Take out the pork from the fridge and leave until it is at room temperature before grilling.
Turn on the Turbo Broiler to 240*C. Place the pork on a rack to grill for 10-15 mins. Turn the pork over and continue to grill for another 10 mins.
Meanwhile pour the left-over marinade in a bowl and microwave it for a few seconds or until it bubbles. Be careful not to over-heat until it spills over.
Pour the hot marinade into another bowl over a sieve to remove and discard the lumpy bits of scum.
Add the maltose into the heated marinade, and stir until it dissolves and becomes sticky. You can also pour the mixture into a small pan and heat over low heat until it thickens.
After 10 minutes of grilling the pork, bast it with the marinade and continue to grill for another few minutes until the edges of the meat is slightly charred. Turn the pork over and repeat the same process. Do not overcook the meat.
Slice up the Char Siew and serve hot with Wonton Noodles. Garnish with Crispy Garlic and Garlic Oil (See my Cold Tofu with Crispy Garlic recipe for the Crispy Garlic recipe).
- If you do not have a turbo broiler, you can use the oven. Place the pork in the upper rack and turn on only the top heat. You will need to adjust the temperature according to your own oven.
- Besides using Pork Shoulder (Wu Hua Rou, Five Flower Meat), you can also use the Pig Armpit 'Bu Jian Tian 不见天' (Never sees the sky) or Pork Belly called 'San Ceng Rou 三层肉' (3 layers pork) minus the skin. These parts have fats in between the lean meat that prevent them from drying during the cooking process. It will give it a glossy look and tender texture as the fats melt.
- If you are health conscious, you can also use tenderloin but the cooking time should be shorter and it will be a bit drier. Therefore you need to get a thicker piece from the butcher.
- When you buy the pork from the wet market or at the supermarket, tell the butchers you want to make Char Siew and they will know how to cut it for you. That will save you the trouble of cutting it yourself.
- If you want the Char Siew to be red colour you can add 1/4 tsp red food coloring to it. But I normally do not do it because I prefer to have it natural.
- When warming up the marinade in the microwave, you need to watch it closely. Do not let it over heat and spill out other wise you will have no gravy left to glaze the Char Siew.
- Any remainder marinade after basting the Char Siu can be used as gravy.
- Any left-over Char Siew can be used to fry Yang Zhao Chao Fun 扬州炒饭(Yang Zhao Fried Rice) or Hong Kong Noodle.
- For the dark soya sauce, I prefer to use Elephant brand Dark Soy Sauce (also known as Cooking Caramel), which is not too salty and the colour is not as dark as other brands, so the food looks more appetising as well.