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Char Siu {Chinese BBQ Pork Cha Shao 叉烧}

by HomeNaturallyMade
Published: Last Updated on
Braised Char Siu {Cha Shao, Chinese BBQ Pork}

Char Siu or Cha Shao {叉烧}, a well-liked Cantonese style Chinese BBQ pork, is one of the top takeout items for Chinese restaurants in the west. Braised Chinese BBQ Pork features pork shoulder or butt, cut into long strips and marinated overnight with homemade Char Siu sauce. They are so juicy and yummy with an easy under 40 minutes of cooking.

The enticing red color is coming from Chinese iconic red yeast rice, an ancient, all-natural wholesome ingredient. What a healthier and quick, easy way to enjoy this popular Chinese food!

Braised Char Siu {Cha Shao, Chinese BBQ Pork}
Braised Chinese BBQ Pork

How to make a tasty and healthy Char Siu Sauce?

Homemade Chinese BBQ Pork sauce using simple wholesome ingredients is so delicious and healthy.

Simple traditional Chinese condiments, including Shaoxing Wine, naturally aged soy sauce, and light soy sauce, marinate the pork wonderfully.

The bright red coloring is directly from traditional Chinese Red Yeast Rice, or Hong Qu Mi (红曲米) in Chinese. It is an all-natural source of red color. Read here to learn more about this ancient ingredient which also proves to be a superfood in modern times.

Red Yeast Rice and Red Yeast Rice Powder
Red Yeast Rice and Red Yeast Rice Powder

Regarding spices, a pinch of star anise, coriander seeds, ginger, and cinnamon powder, as well as a few bay leaves work magically together with freshly minced garlic.

It is easier to get organic whole spices. I usually get the organic star anise and organic whole coriander seeds, and then use a spice grinder to turn them into powder.

A compact food processor is a very handy tool to mince garlic since I frequently use minced garlic for all kinds of delicious food, including Mongolian Beef, Beijing Style Hot Pot Sauce, Garlic Sesame Dressing, and Italian Dressing, etc. Read here for more recipes featuring minced garlic.

Minced Garlic Using a Compact Food Processor
Minced Garlic Using a Compact Food Processor

Honey and turbinado sugar give the BBQ Pork the desired sweetness in a very enticing way. Honey also gives the Chari Siu a glow. The natural molasses in turbinado sugar makes the meat taste especially yummy.

How to make Char Siu {Chinese BBQ Pork} Easy and Yummy?

The first thing first is to mix a homemade Char Siu Sauce

Mixing Homemade Char Siu Sauce {Chinese BBQ Pork}

Gather everything in the recipe for “For Homemade Char Siu Sauce” into a bowl, and whisk well.

Tip No.2 is to marinate the pork overnight with homemade Char Siu Sauce

Cut the pork shoulder or butt along the grain into thin long strips, about 2 inches wide. Add the pork strips along with the homemade sauce into a gallon size ziplock bag. Mix well and carefully squeeze out the air and seal. Place the bag in a container and store it in the refrigerator overnight.

Pork Marinated with Homemade Char Siu Sauce in ziplock bag

Tip No.3 is to Pan Fry the marinated pork strips for about 5 minutes

Pan Fry the marinated pork strips with a bit of canola oil, along with sliced ginger and chopped green onion for about 5 minutes to sear the pork. Turn the pork in between to ensure all sides are seared properly.

Pan Fry {Sear} the marinated pork strips for making Braised Char Siu

Tip No.4 is to braise the seared pork with the marinating sauce

Braise the pork with the marinating sauce only, no additional water is required. Bring sauce along with the pork to a boil, about 5 minutes, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Baste, flip and turn the pork every 10 minutes.

If there is still lots of liquid in the wok by the end of the 20 minutes, then remove the lid, turn the heat back to medium and cook for the final 5-10 minutes. Turn and flip the pork from time to time and mix with the remaining juice in the wok.

Braising Char Siu in the Wok

Last but not least is to let the Char Siu cool down before cutting it into thin serving slices

Remove Char Siu from the wok after the cooking is done. Place them on a plate to cool a little before cutting them into thin slices. It makes the cutting even easier if you chill Char Siu in the refrigerator and slice the following day.

Braised Char Siu {Chinese BBQ Pork}
Braised Char Siu {Cha Shao, Chinese BBQ Pork}

Char Siu {Chao Shao Braised Chinese BBQ Pork} Recipe

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 45 minutes

Braised Chinese BBQ Pork features pork shoulder or butt, cut into long strips and marinated over night with homemade Char Siu sauce. They are so juicy and yummy with an easy 35 minutes of cooking.

Ingredients

  • 4 lb pork, sirloin, shoulder, or butt, cut into long strips along the grain
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 green onion stalks, chopped
  • A small piece of ginger, about 15 g, organic preferred,thinly sliced

For Homemade Char Siu Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup naturally aged soy sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup honey, organic raw preferred
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar, also known as "sugar in the raw"
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic {using a compact food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp star anise powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds powder, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp red yeast rice powder, freshly ground

Instructions

Marinate the Pork Overnight:

  1. Gather ingredients. Wash and rinse pork well and air dry. Cut pork into long strips, about 2 inches wide.
  2. Gather everything under "For Homemade Char Siu Sauce" and add them into a small bowl. Whisk well together.
    Mixing Homemade Char Siu Sauce {Chinese BBQ Pork}
  3. Place pork into a gallon size freezer ziplock bag and then pour in Homemade Char Siu Sauce. Carefully rotate the pork to ensure all pork strips are marinated with the sauce. Squeeze out the air and seal. Place the bag in a container and store it in the refrigerator overnight.
    Pork Marinated with Homemade Char Siu Sauce in ziplock bag

Braise the Marinated Pork:

  1. Remove the marinated pork from the ziplock bag, place it on a plate and set it aside. Save the marinating juice for braising. Cut green onion into small pieces and mince the ginger into very thin julienne cut slices.
    Marinated Pork Strips for cooking Braised Char Siu {Chinese BBQ Pork}
  2. Turn the heat to medium and heat a wok for 1 minute, and then add 1 tsp canola oil. Use a silicone spatula to spread out the oil. Add chopped green onions and ginger slices, and stir for about 10 seconds or till fragrant.
  3. Add the marinated pork strips into the wok, and try to lay them flat with minimal overlay. Cook for 2 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 2 minutes.
    Pan Fry {Sear} the marinated pork strips for making Braised Char Siu
  4. Pour the marinating sauce into the wok in a circular motion, use a mini silicone spatula to scrape clean if needed. Rotate the pork to mix well. Cover the lid and cook for 5 minutes, or till it reaches a boil.
    Braising Char Siu {Chinese BBQ Pork} in Wok
  5. Uncover the lid, and turn the heat to simmer. Rotate, flip and baste the pork, cover the lid and cook for 20 minutes. Rotate, flip and baste the pork halfway through.
    Braising Char Siu in the Wok
  6. If there is still lots of liquid in the wok, then turn the heat to medium again, remove the wok lid and cook for the final 5-10 minutes to reduce the sauce level and caramelize the pork. Flip, and turn the pork to mix with the remaining juice in the wok from time to time.
  7. All done! Turn off the heat, remove Char Siu from the wok and let them cool down on a plate. Save the juice from the wok as a dipping sauce or concentrated broth for making other dishes.
    Braised Char Siu {Chinese BBQ Pork}
  8. Once Char Siu is cooled to room temperature, cut into thin slices and serve. Enjoy a super delicious and healthier Char Siu Chinese BBQ Pork.
    Braised Char Siu {Cha Shao, Chinese BBQ Pork}

Notes

  • Char Siu can be served cold, making it perfect for lunch boxes where a microwave is not available to warm up food. Add this as a topping for salad.
  • It makes the slicing easier if you chill Char Siu in the refrigerator and cut them into slices the following day.
  • Enjoy half of the Char Siu now and store the rest in the freezer to consume in the next 3 months. They are very freezer friendly. A perfect make in advance meal plan solution.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 977Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 293mgSodium: 721mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 81g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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