I never knew the time and effort that went into preparing such a dish. Nor did I know the official name. Char Siu or Cha Shao is a marinated, sweet, slow roasted pork with a deep red color usually found in dim sum-steamed pork buns and in fried rice. Lots of ingredients make up the marinade but each ingredient plays a key role in the final product of char siu.
I took a trip to a local asian market, Thai Asian Market in Menomonee Falls, to pick up the key ingredients. They stock authentic asian products at a very, very reasonable price.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of kosher sea salt
After you are done cooking, let the pork rest for about 10 minutes. I coated the char siu with a mixture of one tablespoon of hoisin sauce mixed with one tablespoon of kecap manis.
Cut char siu into strips or bits, however you prefer.
Served over white rice with pickled cucumber and radishes with extra hoisin/kecap manis sauce drizzled on top.
The char siu tasted just like I remember from the Asian buffets I used to eat at. Smoky and sticky-tasting with hints of sweetness, the pork tasted great next to the bite of pickled vegatables. The marinade is made up of a lot of ingredients but they all work together and no ingredient outdoes the other. I love how pork can take on a lot of wide scale ingredients and give you a bomb of flavor. The smoke brings a lot of character to the dish as well and it wouldn't taste the same without it. Simply roasting the pork would give you a succulent, tender piece of meat but it would be void of the extra layer of taste and crunch from the bark.
It was a near perfect dish for me. I wished I had minced green onions and cilantro for a little herby, fresh taste. But nonetheless, it was a great dish to prepare for a summer afternoon meal.
Char siu is very versatile as far as incorporating it into dishes. Chopped into fried rice, pillowed in steamed buns, ladled into ramen soup or pho, combined with steamed vegatables, the Chinese BBQ pork will not leave your taste buds wanting more. Man oh man, was that good!