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BBQ Pork Recipe (Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧) http://rasamalaysia.com/bbq-pork-recipe-char-siu/
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 (7 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. momo518 says:

    I couldn’t find maltose in my local grocery store. Where can I find it? or Is there a substitute? thanks again for the wonderful recipe

  2. Shi Yun says:

    Hi! Thanks for your great recipe! I made it a few days ago and made some changes to it and it turned out great! We loved eating it! If you’re interested, i posted pictures on my blog! Thanks!

  3. lilian says:

    Hi, i’ve been a follower of your blog for quite sometime and I’ve tried a lot of your recipes and I mist say they have all been really good especially the honey walnut prawn, chinese bbq pork ribs and soy sauce chicken. Since I’ve made the bbq pork ribs before which is something similar to this recipe I thought i might give this recipe a shot.

    Just a question, when i grill the pork over the stove top, do i place the pork directly on top of the stove and leave it there or sort of hover it near the fire? How long do i grill it for? Btw, won’t the sauce drip all over? Or can i use an alternative method and roast the pork in the oven and then grill it in the oven using the grill function of the oven? Hope you can reply asap as I intend to make this really soon. Keep the good work!

    • Yes, you can use the broil function of the oven and broil for 1-2 minutes, depending on your oven. I prefer my method because it “chars” better, hehe. Yes, if you use the stove top, the sauce will drip a little, but I always leave a sheet of aluminum foil covering my stove top. You have to hover it near the fire, keep turning, just like BBQ over fire. :)

  4. Lynn says:

    What do you mean when you cook it stove top afterwards? What exactly do you do? can you just broil it on high to sear it?

    thanks

      • Peter Tan says:

        Part of my problem for me is the difference between American English and British English. I don’t use ‘broil’, but I understand this to be what is in the UK ‘grill’ – apply the heat source from above.

        So is it fine to use the grill (in the British sense), as well as to use a griddle pan and have the heat source below?

  5. Lynn says:

    Just made it tonite. so good!!!! taste just like what I remember from back in the days of chinatown. THANKS!

  6. lilian says:

    Thanks for the recipe…the char siew turned out really delicious. I ended up using the broil function of my oven for about 2 mins on high. I substituted rose wine for shaoxing wine since its kinda expensive to buy 1 bottle of it. But the sauce was really good…I made some extra and served it by poring some of the sticky, sweet and savoury sauce over the char siew. My family loved it =) and I’ll be making it again. Much better than Lee Kum Kee char siew sauce.

  7. Daisy_A says:

    This looks delicious!

    I am just becoming more confident in cooking Asian food and blogs like yours help so much. I just surprised myself by managing to make some delicious pork char siu bao with roasted pork to which I added seasonings. Now I would really like to go the extra step and make the pork from scratch from your recipe.

    I had a couple of question but see that you have answered one above. I know what you mean about a stove top char giving flavour. It made no end of difference to my baba ghanoush recipe to chargrill the aubergine but I had to put foil below the burners and see that you also advise this for this recipe.

    My second question is what would you serve this with? I have worked out that I can make plain bao as an accompaniment. I would also like to offer an additional vegetable dish or garnish but don’t know what is traditional? I would welcome your suggestions.

    Thanks for your help and great blog! Daisy_A

    • I always have a sheet of foil on my stove. I think it makes a lot of difference to char meat, vegetable is different, the texture of aubergine is already soft and tender to begin with.

      I would serve this with plain white rice, and you can make some extra sauce to go with it. Noodles will be nice, too, as this BBQ pork makes a great topping.

      • Daisy_A says:

        Many thanks for these suggestions! I’m sure this would be good with noodles or rice. You’re right about the aubergine – don’t think it makes it more tender, just smokier, which is lovely. I look forward to trying this chargrill technique with meat also. Thanks for your help. Daisy_A

  8. Nhia says:

    This recipe is really a keep! I can’t eat pork so I improvised a bit, I used boneless chicken breast with skin or beef (flank or chuck or sirloin), I rolled the meat into log. Instead roasting it, I braised it. The result was softer and moist. For muslim people, it’s okay to omit the rose wine.

    • Peter Tan says:

      I think chicken breast is too dry as a substitute. Why not try lamb? We’ve made lamb char siew before, and it was EXCELLENT! :)

    • JasonInMelbourne says:

      Use a few drops of rose water instead of rose wine. DO NOT use more than a few drops as it is VERY CONCENTRATED.

      • Lily says:

        Hi..

        I just want to inquire..what if i substitute the chicken breast with chicken thigh with skin? would it yield better result? and about the rose water? is the same as rose essence used in making Kuih? Tq

  9. Jennie says:

    Looking delicious, so should the oven be preheated for a certain time before putting in the meat in the oven?

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  11. Bearmouse says:

    I tried this recipe yesterday.
    It was delicious.
    I finished it under the broiler to caramelized the pork (to cold to use the BBQ outside).
    Thank you for sharing the recipe.

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  14. lilian says:

    Hi, if i were to do this for 1 1/2 to 2 kg pork belly how long should I roast it for? Making this for a large group of friends the day after tmr and I really hope it turns out well. Thanks if u can reply asap.

  15. lilian says:

    Sorry for bugging u but u have not replied me. Am making this tmr. I am roasting 1.1kg pork belly. Would 35-40 mins be enough?

  16. lilian says:

    Its alright. I made them today and roasted them for 40 mins in the oven then grill them under the broiler for 10 mins. They came out juicy, succulent and tender. Definitely not overcooked which I was afraid of. I complimented it with chicken rice. Cheers.

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  18. Melody Marsh says:

    Sounds super yummy and looks easy to make…I think I’ll have to try it

  19. Cheryl says:

    I was gonna make char sew noodles for the bf and i for dinner, didn’t realize I ran out of lee kum kee’s char sew sauce. i didn’t have maltose, so i doubled the honey. I also didn’t put rose wine and five spice powder, used a tad more white pepper instead. still turned out super awesome! thank you so much!

  20. bete says:

    Neste Natal fizemos char siu para nossa ceia. Mas usamos mistura pronta comprada em loja de produtos chineses. É a nossa comida favorita.

  21. I was gonna make char sew noodles for the bf and i for dinner, didn’t realize I ran out of lee kum kee’s char sew sauce. i didn’t have maltose, so i doubled the honey. I also didn’t put rose wine and five spice powder, used a tad more white pepper instead. still turned out super awesome! thank you so much!

  22. barbecues says:

    As long as it is a hardwood. Oak, Hickory, Pecan, Mesquite…etc. Softwoods burn too quickly and therefore produce a hotter fire for a shorter time. Use hardwoods and make sure they are well seasoned (dry), if it’s green it will impart a very bitter taste to what ever is being cooked.

  23. Helen Collier says:

    I made this today and it was delicious! Instead of rose wine I used sherry cooking wine and was unable to find maltose. I cooked it in the
    oven for about 60minutes at 375 and 15minutes at 350. I made about 3.75 lbs. Great recipe! Many thanks!

  24. calina says:

    Hi , do you think i use peng ren huang jiu for this ?

  25. kev says:

    What is the green sauce you always get poured over this in in Hong Kong? anyone have a recipe?

  26. TC says:

    Instead of cooking on the stove top, could you use a chef’s blowtorch to char the meat? I think I got one kicking around… Thanks.

  27. Dansen Wong says:

    Just made this to celebrate CNY with my American gf and some friends from Malaysia. It was wonderful! I used the Boston pork butt cut of meat, omitted the rose wine and maltose as I couldn’t find either of them here (small town of Spartanburg, SC). Just doubled up on honey. cooked them for much longer than 15 minutes as I was cooking about 3 lbs of pork and the size of the cut was much larger. Took it out after baking in the oven, coated it with additional char siew sauce, then put it back in the broiler for a couple of minutes. My gf and friends were impressed! Sipped some Teh Kun Yam, talked about Malaysian car import taxes, how much we missed Char Kuey Teow, and how hard it is to find good Malaysian food around here! Thanks Rasa!

  28. JDK says:

    Looking forward to making this (in the oven) but had a quick question hoping you could confirm.
    You mention cutting a 1 pound butt into 4 pieces. Would it follow suit that a 2 pound butt would be best cut in 8 pieces? Just curious as I don’t want to cut them too thin or too thick for the cooking times and temps you recommend. THANKS – I know this is going to taste great.
    Appreciate the tips. JDK

  29. Babylie says:

    I really want to make this recipe but don’t have any ovens, and it will cost me a lot to buy it.. so is there any other way to cook this tasty looked charsiew?? Boil it first maybe and then continue with the grill?? As i already had Lee Kum Kee Charsiew Sauce.. do i still need other ingredients? plz advice, yummy.. :D

  30. Esther says:

    I just made the Char Siu and it was fabulous, I finally have found the right marinate,thank you from Switzerland.

  31. bernie says:

    hi there, what can I use to substitute for maltose? I live in Brasilia, and it’s difficult to find maltose. Thanks. This recipe looks really good and I can’t wait to try it..

  32. owie says:

    Hi.. I like to make my own char siu too, I usually add a bit of RED YEAST RICE to get the red color… I haven’t tried this recipe, it looks so mouth watering.. will try it soon

  33. Cynthia says:

    This recipe looks authentic and can be trusted. I just marinaded my pork this morning following your recipe exactly. I am a cook and I know it will work. It already smells nice when all the sauces are concocted. Will wait for tomorrow for the end results. Will keep you update. Tq for the recipe. God bless!

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  36. Rita says:

    I’ve made this twice for Chinese New Year celebration this year. Thumbs-up! We love it. I’ve posted the photos in my blog with a linkback to this site here.
    Thanks for a very good recipe!

  37. kellepelle says:

    OMG this Char Siu was absolutely the most tasteful juicy char siu we have every eaten! We used pork butt chops and just cut it into four equal pieces. WE marniated for 36 hours and followed the rest of the recipe word for word and it was great. The recipe and this website are fabulous. we cant wait to try more

  38. Chris says:

    Thanks for the great recipe. I made this for a BBQ and everyone loved it. One thing though, I marinated overnight but still felt like the flavor of the marinade was really subtle. Any suggestions for a stronger flavor?

  39. lilian says:

    I am going to make this again for some muslim friends. I’ve tried this recipe with pork belly many times and it has always been successful. This time i am going to do it with chicken thighs, boneless perhaps. If i don’t use chinese wine, what can i substitute it with or can i just omit it altogether? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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  41. Hi Thanks for the recipe. I made it last week and everyone loved it, especially kids. They came out soooo delicious like what we (my family) had at Jalan Alor. Great recipe!!

  42. I left a message b4 but don’t see it now. I live in Sonoma (wine country) and can’t find maltose or Chinese Rose Wine. I’ve been to several Asian markets and they just look at me like I’m crazy. I’m willing to go to San Francisco if I have to but need to know where to go. I’ve experimented with some dry packets of Char Siu from envelopes and it’s ok but really want to try your exact recipe. HELP!

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  44. what is pork butt? I havent seen this pork portion in the market before? Is there any other cuts that I can use instead of pork butt? Thank you.

  45. just_g says:

    Just found your website and browsed the other day. Bought all the ingredients I needed for a couple of dish I selected. Then marinated pork butt for 2 days and it turned out very delicious. Followed the recipe as it was written. However, the only things that I didn’t follow was the maltose. I can’t seem to find it, so I just doubled the honey. Used Chinese Rice Wine instead of the Chinese rose wine. My family loved it, and it was worth cooking it. Thanks Bee for sharing this …

  46. Daniel says:

    Hi, I’m very new to cooking and just tried this recipe. Tastewise it was very good , but on my own part I made a mistake in not removing the skin before roasting and marinating. As a result, the meat was covered with very tough skin. Is this a general rule when dealing with pork? thus far the meat i have cooked has always been skinned so something new to me.

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  48. Rosanna says:

    This looks divine. I can’t wait to try it. I never new you could cook directly on the stove top before. I’ve never had a gas range before, but I will in a week. I can’t wait to try this out. Thanks for the recipe. The pictures are lovely.

  49. kelly says:

    Rasa,

    <3 ur site… quick question… i don't like to use food coloring if I don't have to… if i don't use the red food coloring, would it still turned out red like those in hong kong joints?

    thanks!

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