BBQ Pork Recipe (Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧)
April 19th, 2009 235 Comments

BBQ Pork Recipe (Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧)

BBQ Pork (Char Siu/Char Siew)
BBQ Pork (Char Siu/Char Siew) pictures (1 of 9)

BBQ pork or “char siu” (also spelled as “char siew”) is a famous Chinese dish that everyone loves.

Char siu (char siew) is of Cantonese origin where skewers of pork meat is marinated in a honey hoisin sauce, and then roast in oven to charred, savory, and sticky sweet perfection. If there is a pork recipe that defines Chinese cooking, I think char siu (char siew) would be it.

The secret ingredients to the best-ever char siu (char siew) are.

  1. Choice of meat – if you love your char siu (char siew) tender, juicy, moist, and a little fatty, use pork belly. If you prefer a meaty char siu (char siew), then go for pork loin. If you like it somewhere in between, then pork butt will be a great choice.
  2. Maltose – called ” 麦芽糖” in Chinese, maltose is the secret ingredient that gives char siu (char siew) that sticky sweet taste and texture. Honey is just the icing on the cake.
  3. Chinese rose wine – this wine is very fragrant and lends a very nice flavor to this BBQ pork or char siu (char siew) recipe.
  4. Five-spice powder (五香粉) – mixture of 5 spices used in Chinese recipes.

Without further ado, here is the Chinese BBQ pork (char siu/char siew) recipe, which I learned from my friend S. This recipe makes KILLER char siu (char siew) that is better than any Chinese restaurants–juicy, moist, tender, delicious, and sublime.

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235 comments... read them below or add one

  1. angiefm says:

    Thanks for an amazing website! I love your recipes and came across it while looking for one for Ayam Masak Merah. :) I was browsing and saw this and it looks ALMOST identical to the one posted on, even right down to the cooking method. But your post is older. :) Keep posting!

  2. mfcheong says:

    Do you have any recipe to make ” char siew chicken ” ?

  3. Mike says:

    I don’t agree with food coloring. It’s an outdated practice and going back a 100 years, that would have been too hard to procure. You can get the red from natural sources if you do your homework. I never use rose wine. I use shao hsing wine since it has a natural red color. Again, do you homework and you will find you don’t have to use artificial colors.

  4. Shirley says:

    Just tried the recipe, and it turned out great. I will use your recipe for this year’s New Year celebration for 50 people (I am thinking 15 lbs of pork butt?). I sure hope you will see my comment because I have two questions: 1). how do you cut the pork butt into four pieces? (horizontal or vertical or doesn’t matter?) 2). I will make the char siu a day ahead. What’s your recommendation for reheating? Thank you so much for the recipe!!

  5. Lin says:

    Hi bee!

    I love your website and have tried many of the recipes and all turned out delicious especially your dong po pork recipe :) I was wondering about the soya sauce used in the recipe. Is it light soya sauce or dark soya sauce? Thanks in advance x

  6. Lynette says:

    Looks yummy! Can’t wait to try it.

  7. Tamching says:

    Thank you for the recipe! Some of the ingredients are hard to get here in France but a piece of filet mignon did the trick (minus the fatty part).

  8. paulina says:

    Would it come out OK if I use pork tenderloin?

  9. Tan Lilian says:

    Hi! I read your recipe for char siu recently. I stay in Singapore. Where
    can I buy the Chinese Rose Wine? I can’t find it in NTUC. If don’t have in Singapore, where can buy in Malaysia?
    Thanks a lot.

    • Alfred says:

      Hu Lilian,

      I am from Singapore too. You can find Rose Wine from those dry goods stalls around big wet markets. They have it at one of the aunty store in Ghim Moh market. The shop is facing the clinics.

  10. wendynongnong says:

    Hi where can i buy maltose and the rose wine from?

  11. Relda says:

    what is Maltose???

    • Rob Dai Gor says:

      Malt sugar. It is usually sold in small plastic tubs in Chinese stores. It has a consistency similar to clear honey, but is less runny.

  12. luv your recipes i’m making tonite thank you

  13. Szuchi says:

    Enjoy your website very much!
    Where do you buy oven proof S shape hooks?
    Thank you very much,

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  15. bajerugger says:

    Hi Bee,

    I lived in KL for a year and a half back in the 80′s, so every now and again I hanker for some Malaysian dishes. I tried your char siu pork for the first time this weekend for a small lunch party. Gone in 15 minutes! It was fantastic! I will be trying more of your recipes in the future. With or without food colouring!

  16. W says:

    In which section of Ranch 99 or Asian supermarket, can one find Maltose?

  17. Spinnerette says:

    What can be substituted for the maltose? Can I use sugar or more honey? I have Celiac disease and because maltose is derived from barley, it’s not gluten free. (Neither are soy sauce or hoisin sauce most of the time but I found one brand of gluten free hoisin and I use tamari instead of soy sauce. But of course that’s why I can’t have bbq pork unless I make it myself!)

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  19. adele says:

    Hi! So excited to see this; must try. Am a little confused by the “cook’s notes” though:

    1. Which oven cooking times should we use – 15m (with stove grilling after), or just 30m in the oven? What’s the difference between the oven cooking directions in the recipe and in the notes?
    2. What are the steps for outdoor grilling? Sounds like this might be simpler since it doesn’t require the extra oven-transfer step. Do we also glaze/char at the end?


  20. janet says:

    Wow–I’ve used a packaged sauce for years and this was both more tasty and more economical. I did skip the food coloring, only because the pork was delicious and appetizing with natural color. Boo, Mike.

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  22. andrea says:

    I live in Spore.Where can I get hoisin sauce.What’s this??

  23. Merv says:

    There are so many recipes for char siu, but I do like your one. Just to clarify: you can BBQ it directly over a grill in lieu of the initial oven roasting — that is, a one-step process?

  24. Nikkita says:

    making this for tomorrow night to toss through some singapore style noodles. *drool*

  25. Dan says:

    This is absolutely the best recipe for char siew. I have made it many times and all my friends love it. I prefer to use pork belly for the fats.

  26. Darshini Nadarajan says:

    Another great recipe! U have the most amazing timing too! (U r also my best cover to show people I actually am malaysian! LOL) Char Siu Challenge Accepted!!

  27. Thanks for your great recipe. It is inspired to cook Thai style BBQ roasted pork dish!
    I’ve also tried your chicken rice recipe. Equally delicious. Thanks!

  28. bbq smokehouse says:

    It is refreshing to find a bbq recipe that has a different taste! I love asian bbq!

  29. Rick Lapin says:

    If there is a more heavenly char-siu recipe I have not yet run across it, and since I found this one I’ve stopped looking. Used the sauce to make ribs and chicken many times — tonight I am marinating a pork tenderloin with the firm intention of direct grilling it tomorrow evening … take that, Old Man Winter.

    Sincerest thanks for all you do on this site.

  30. Chris says:

    your recipe looks yummy. Char siew my fave food. How do you say pork butt in Cantonese? Heh heh

  31. Harry says:

    I tried making this and it didn’t come out as expected…although I was close. I had a hard time finding the maltose and could not find the rose wine.

    I maltose I bought it was very very thick and a bit difficult to work with b/c it was so thick. Is maltose suppose to be really thick or did I get a bad batch?

    As for locating the rose wine I just couldn’t find it at any Chinese local grocery store. I googled it and found an alternative to rose wine but I’m not sure if this threw off the recipe. I will give this a try again and hopefully I’ll come closer to nailing down this recipe.

  32. Omar says:

    I made this with pork ribs last night. Perfection!

    I used corn syrup instead of maltose.

  33. PJ says:

    I Love your site ! Any of your recipes that I have tried have been amazing !! Your photography makes me want to make everything ! Thank You !

  34. pisey says:

    Hi,, some ingredients are new for me. if possible, can post the photo of each ingredients along. Thanks

  35. Bob says:

    I’ve tried several recipes for char siu and this one is by far the best. Thanks for sharing.

    Anyone having trouble finding maltose or rose wine and has a 99 Ranch Market near by….

    Look for maltose right next to the honey. It’s in a small white tub with blue letters and a pink lid. I could not find anything labelled rose wine, but a little researched showed that it also goes by the name “Mei Kuei Lu Chiew” which is in the liquor aisle near the Sake. It has a rose embossed on the back of the bottle. It’s about $15 for a 750ml bottle.

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