Monday, March 05, 2007

Roasted pork Chinese style (char-siew)

There's an Asian supermarket not far from my town, about 20-minute drive, however, we haven't been there for a long time. Last summer my dog had chemo after diagnosed with the last stage of caner, one of the side effects of the treatment was giving him a huge appetites. That time we went to the Asian supermarket, a few times a week, bought all kinds of fatty meat, livers and kidneys, we piled them up high in our trolley at the same time put our hope on high for his recovery. However we eventually lost him... since then even just walked past a meat counter tears would fill up our eyes. Well, life has to move on ... last week I was back to the asian supermarket, told my butcher I wanted a chunk of meat. He was a bit puzzled, he remembered me used to buy a lot ... ...

To make good char-siew, first, getting the right cut is crucial. I was told it's somewhere by belly, but I just said char-siew meat to my Chinese butchers. In here, so far I haven't seen this cut available at any western supermarket. I've changed and used other cuts but the result wasn't satisfactory. In that Asian store I just mentioned, they would cut out char-siew meat, usually 2 - 3 lbs each, and tidily arrange inside their counter.

Secondly, for basting, using maltose (also available at asian supermarket) is a must in order to get the authentic touch and taste, honey as a substitute is not acceptable to me.

Finally, the way how I roasted it is based on my type of gas oven. If you don't have that oven, and/or interested in another way that done by Chinese wok, Angie has a very good recipe in her blog.

(left: 2.5 lbs meat ; Righ: after cut and marinated)

  • 2.5 lbs * char-siew meat
  • 1/4 tsp 5 spice powder
  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsps black beans & garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsps dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 tsps brown sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbps wine *
  • Maltose


  • Cut the meat, longwise along the grain, with 2- to 2.5-inch thick, but I like mine thicker so I went 2.5 - 3-inch (thickness will change the roasting time). Use all the above ingredients to marinate the meat, ideally overnight, if you run out of time, marinate 3 hours in room temperature.
  • Put the rack in the highest position in oven, pre-heat to 500F.
  • Use a dry towel to rub the garlic & black bean bites off the meat (quick rinse is ok), lay the meat on a pan. Send it to oven, uncover, lower the temperature to 450F
  • After 15 minutes (sooner if your meat is less thick) give your meat the first check, and turn it over. In the meantime prepare the maltose... scoop up a big maltose (it's very thick so will wrap around your spoon), put it in a pot, add a few spoonful of water, warm it over a low heat. After it heats up, the maltose will thin out.
  • After the first turn of the meat, you should have a rough idea how fast your meat cooks. In my case, after 15 minutes give it a turn, then 10 minutes, then every 5 minutes (start basting with maltose as well). When meat thermometer reads 160F, the meat is done. Mine the total roasting time was 40 minutes.
  • Transper the meat on a plate, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes. After that you can slice it to serve.

My notes:

  • 2.5 lbs good enough for 4 adults in a Chinese meal (Chinese meal consists of 2 - 3 dishes)
  • I have used champagin, white table wine, rose, sparkling white wine, they all yield satisatory result.



MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The roast looks fabulous.
Sorry about the puppy. I always called our dog a puppy even when he weighted 90 pounds. Food is so mixed with experiences. Things take time.

Mishmash ! said...

Hi gattina...i dint come here over the weekend and it's as if I missed out a lot of stuff! :)though I dont eat pork,i read the entire post...sorry to hear about ur doggie.


Anh said...

Gattina, your char-siew looks perfect! :P Remind me of the old days when eating pork is not a problem for my health..

Oh, the story of your dog reminds me of mine, too. Still feel sad when thinking of it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your dog Gattina, must've been hard.

The char-siew looks moist and delicious, will keep a look out next time I go to an Asian supermarket!

Callipygia said...

Oh I love char-siew- I think I'll just try the marinade with a pork tenderloin. Sorry about your dog Gattina.

Unknown said...

Such succulent char siew. Even a don't-like-pork-that-much person like me is drooling at the PC *wink*

sher said...

That's so sweet the way you cared for your dog. What a lucky dog he was to have such loving parents. Your char-siew looks wonderful! I have wanted to make it, but would have to order the maltose, since I've never seen it sold here. I want to make it so I can make the little stuffed buns that are steamed. Yum!!! Your pictures make me so hungry!!!!!

The Culinary Chase said...

BBQ pork with rice is a favorite dish we like to order out. Your recipe and photo look delicious! YUM!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

This roast looks so succulent! Although, I was saddened by your story about your dog--our memories are so closely tied to food, aren't they?

BTW-Congratulations on being a winner of DMBLGIT! In fact, when and Jeff and I were looking at the submissions last week, he said, "Oh, I love the one with the child's hands." (He's got good taste.) It really is a beautiful photo--so original.

FH said...

My daughter would love to move in with you Gattina!!;D Both my kids prefer anything but Indian food except Butter chicken and Tikka masala etc.
Sorry about your pet.We have a Bichon Frise who is catching with age too.

Anonymous said...

This pork looks so good... perfect and I could eat it right now.

Gattina Cheung said...

Tanna, thank you! :D

Shn, I'm ok now. I actually didn't do many dishes recently, toooooooo cold...

Anh, hope you're ok now ...
Pork probably is my second favorite food (seafood is #1), but I don't eat much, one or two bites, and I only pick the fat one :D

Monisha, thanks sweetie! Yes worth a try! I used to make it very often.

Callipygia, thank you my friend! Tenderloin is a bit too lean, well, just because I love fatty pork. Actually lean char-siew very common at stores in Hongkong too! But of course, I always picked the fatty one :D

Angie, shall I keep making pork dish? I want to convert you, hehee.

Sher, I know you're animal lover, your words mean a lot to me, thank you! Stuff buns!!! My husband loves them :D

Heather, thank you! Char-siew rice, oh boy, finger-licking good! And drizzle with sweeten soy sauce... I know I'll drool in my dream tonight!

Susan, thank you sweetie!
And you're the first one to tell me the news! I'm so happy I got to go and see! In the meantime, blow you and your hubby a kiss !

Asha, thanks my friend!
For me most local food here are too bland and unexciting! I love Indian food a lot, anything!!! I so much want to taste your home-cook meal!

Sabrina, thank you so much! Yes, I love fresh cook pork!

Anonymous said...

That looks perfectly done, especially the glaze on the side. Wow! A glaze like that is something to be admired. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow gatinna this brings back memories of when my dad used to make these. It looks perfect and succulent too! I love having this with a bowl of steaming white rice.

Linda said...

my boyfriend would love me if i made this. looks fantastic.

Peabody said...

I'm so sorry about your dog. I too would have been feeding my puppy whatever she wanted if she was sick.
Your meat looks great.

Anonymous said...

What a delicious looking roast!

Anonymous said...

BTW - I'm sorry about your dog. I'm glad you made it back into the butcher....

Patricia Scarpin said...

What a beautiful piece of meat, Gattina!!

I don't eat pork, but Joao loves it - this dish looks fantastic!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm so sorry about your dog, my dear friend - my sister-in-law is going through the same situation now and we are all very supportive. It's so hard to go on without your best friend, I know!

Saffron said...

next time I cook pork I'll try this recipe!

Bong Mom said...

Your post made me sad for your dog.

Anonymous said...

I have been wondering the type of meat used in charsiu. I've longed to make this for so long. Thank you for the recipe! Charsiu pork is so versatile. There was a restaurant in UK where i used to go and they get so busy all the time that their charsiu pork is always fresh. They don't make too much of it so that there's not much leftover to sell on the next day. They must have a chinese fairy in the kitchen working all hours in the night just to get them ready for customers during the day. :)

As usual, your photos are to drool for! I also had a peek at your beautiful kitchen. Looks airy and light. Beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Gattina, been a long Time since I got to see your yummy posts. Delicious !!!!!!!! mouth watering!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my God... this pork looks so shiny and crispy... it seems delicious.

Melting Wok said...

my goddd, I just made char siu toooo, ooh, double bonus hehe, yours looks lovely, plump and juicy !! :) ahh..those succulant pieces of red meat :)

Anonymous said...

hi gattina... for cut of meat... try boston butt which is really the picnic shoulder of the pig. it's the dark meat. works reaaaally well.

your recipe looks goood!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello Gattina!

Try pork tenderloin and baste the meat every 15 minutes whilst roasting. That is what the char siew chefs in Kuala Lumpur do :)