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.
After a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant Nicola became obsessed with seeking the best flavours from around the world. She started Sous Chef in 2012, and is always sharing her knowledge of ingredients and writing recipes to showcase those products. Learning from the products, Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola has written the majority of the recipes on the Sous Chef website, all of which are big on flavour.