Char Siu Pork

January 11, 2009

I love char siu, Cantonese barbecued pork. Unfortunately, it’s not often prepared well, usually presented as sticky-sweet neon pink “boneless spare ribs.” So when I saw this recipe for making char siu at home, I had to give it a try. I live a few blocks away from Reliable Market, one of the best Asian groceries in the Boston area. (The best, Super 88, is the subject of another post.) So I went shopping for pork belly, dark soy sauce, and maltose syrup. It took a while to find  the syrup: “maltose” and “reliable” are not words you want to have the store employees try to pronounce.

I ignored the prepackaged five-spice powder, opting instead to make my own from scratch. Then I bought enough pork for at least three meals, figuring a time-consuming recipe like this should have a long-term payoff.

Two days later I had marinated pork, which I slow-roasted in the oven. It didn’t turn out pink – or even red – but had a lovely mahogany color instead.

I sauteed some snow peas and made a quick sauce with ginger, garlic, soy, and sesame oil (a technique I picked up from Mark Bittman). I sliced the pork and served it with the peas over steamed white rice, garnishing the plate with scallions. Here’s the end result:

Char siu pork with snow peas over rice

Char siu pork with snow peas over rice

The taste of the pork was so much more complex than the restaurant junk. The toasted spices, hoisin, soy, and maltose were perfectly balanced, and the pork flavor still came through.

This recipe is a keeper. Now that I have extra pork stashed away, making this meal again will take 30 minutes from start to finish.

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