Rich red-brown char siu pork glistens in Chinatown windows, hanging side-by-side with roast Peking duck — where even the limp necks cannot deter our intrinsic lust for sugar, salt, fat. The combination of red yielding pork, sweet-salt umami-rich sauce, bright green crunchy pak choi, and fluffy absorbent white rice is difficult to beat.
Preserved red beancurd — tofu fermented in a red yeast — and plenty of honey or sugar are the secrets to char siu pork’s glossy sheen. With so much sweetness, the sharp fermented beancurd notes bring balance to such a rich dish. Anything else is optional.
I add a trio of umami-rich sauces: hoisin, oyster, and soy; along with sherry-like shaoxing wine. Fresh ginger and garlic are often used, but I find them too pungent and the texture competes with the smooth sticky glaze — for me Chinese five-spice powder is best. Total preparation time is less than 15 minutes. How’s that for an easy dish?
Main Serves: 4
- 400g pork shoulder or pork belly (rind and extra fat removed)
For the marinade
- Slice pork into 1 cm strips. If using pork belly you may need to start with 700g or more if it is a very fatty pig. Once the skin and thick layer fat is removed you will have closer to 400g.
- Mix together marinade ingredients and pour over pork slices to coat. Leave to marinate for 12-48 hours.
- Preheat oven to 200 C. Lift pork out of the marinade liquid and roast in oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Whilst the pork cooks, pour the marinade into a small pan. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half - to the consistency of double cream.
- Once cooked, cut the roast pork into bite-size pieces and pour over sauce. Serve with rice and cooked greens.