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This Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) is out of this world! Tender and juicy, with an smoky sweetness that pairs perfectly with the meat.
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Most Chinese restaurants serve Char Siu, or Chinese Barbecue Pork as a side dish or appetizer. Long strips of the best cuts of pork with a savory sweet glaze gives the pork an incredible flavor and tastes delicious on its own or served with the main entrée with fried rice. If made RIGHT, it can easily be my favorite part of the meal. More often than not, unfortunately, when I have gotten Char Siu at restaurants it comes out dry. This homemade Char Siu pork recipe is never dry, and always turns out perfectly. With this easy Char Siu sauce, you can make this flavorful dish right at home!
Ingredients for Chinese BBQ Pork
The ingredients for this Char Siu are simple and can be found at most regular grocery stores. It really is one of the easiest Chinese recipes I’ve ever tried. Here’s what you need:
- Pork Tenderloin – You can use pork tenderloin tips, pork shoulder, pork belly, or pork butt, any cut of pork you like.
- Teriyaki sauce – We love Mr. Yoshidas for this recipe but any of your favorite bottled sauce will work great
- Chicken broth – if you want to keep sodium down, use a low-sodium broth.
- Soy sauce – low sodium soy sauce or regular.
- Hoisin sauce – this sauce has a honey, brown sugar flavor with savory ingredients that give such depth to this recipe. Just a couple of tbsp is all you need.
- Chinese five-spice spice powder – this is optional, but adds extra flavour. It can be found in the spice section or the Asian section of your grocery store. It is a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds.
- Garlic – mince about four cloves or four tsp.
- Red food coloring – just a couple drops of red food colouring gives this recipe that beautiful red color that Chinese BBQ pork is known for.
Ingredient Additions and Substitutions
- white pepper
- dried red peppers
- cayenne pepper
- kosher salt
How To Cook It Right
After getting my Camp Chef Pellet Grill, I decided it was time to attempt this Chinese BBQ pork at home. I did a high smoke until it reached JUST the right internal temperature, wrapped it in foil for a few minutes, and tried a slice. It was heavenly. I am not even kidding when I say it was by far the best Char Siu pork I have eaten. It was tender, flavorful, and perfect. It blew my favorite Chinese place’s pork out of the water and that is saying something because I used to REALLY love their pork.
The trick to getting this perfect is smoking the pork, however, if you don’t have access to a smoker or pellet grill, I have offered some alternative methods of cooking in with the recipe. Another thing to keep in mind if you want your pork to be nice and tender is to go by internal temperature, NOT cooking time. This is crucial. Use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperature.
Pro Tips for Pork
The National Pork Board (yes, that is a real thing) recommends cooking pork such as tenderloin, to an internal temperature of at least 145-degrees (this is medium-rare temperature). I pulled the pork off of the pellet grill at 147-degrees and it was perfect. Wrapping it in foil for a few minutes will actually allow the internal temperature to increase a little more. This is crucial, even if you aren’t a “medium-rare” meat kind of person. By the time you start eating it will be closer to a true medium. Pork isn’t like beef where you can see the doneness. Honestly, medium rare will look pretty much the same on the inside as medium-well, which is why judging by internal temperature is even more important in this recipe.
Can I Cook It Longer If I Want?
If you want the pork a little more done, feel free to simmer it longer in the oven (only if you must). Just don’t let the internal temp get above 160 before removing it from the grill or baking pan or you will have dry pork and you will be sad. Let the pork rest on a rack and baste with the leftover drippings from the pan.
Such a Versatile Meal
As mentioned above, you can serve Char Siu as an appetizer, side dish, or even main dish (with hot mustard — oh my gosh I love hot mustard) but you can also serve it a few other ways. You can dice it into smaller pieces and serve in fried rice (this is what I like to do if we have any left over). I promise it will make the best fried rice you have ever eaten. Make it with our Restaurant Style Fried Rice and substitute the Chinese BBQ pork for the ham. It will make all the difference in the world. You can also serve it with your favorite Asian noodles.
You can also slice up the pork and place it on your favorite type of buns and use it in Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches (it is so stinkin’ good. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it). You are going to love them! In the meantime, enjoy this Chinese BBQ pork!
Frequently Asked Questions about Char Siu
While there are variations to each recipe, a fairly simple Char Siu sauce includes soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and Chinese five-spice powder. Some ingredients call for sherry, but you can leave that out if you want.
Yes, it’s very similar since Char Siu is roasted BBQ pork. Char siu is an iconic Chinese (specifically, Cantonese) roasted BBQ pork. This BBQ pork is much sweeter than a usual, more savory pork roast.
This pork dish gets it color from a little red food coloring. An authentic Char Siu recipe is made with fermented red bean curds, which don’t have a lot of flavor but add color to the meat. It’s easy to make without red bean curds; just add red food coloring for the same effect.
Be sure to store leftover char siu in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be re used plain or in a number of dishes like rice bowls, bbq pork buns, char siu bao, a stir fry with vegetables, or ramen bowls!
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How to Make Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
- Smoker Pellet Grill
- Outdoor Barbecue Grill
- 2 pounds pork tenderloin (or 2 pounds pork tenderloin tips)
- 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce we used Mr. Yoshidas
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4. cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder optional
- a few drops red food coloring optional, it just gives it that Chinese BBQ pork look
- Place pork in a large Ziploc bag.
- Combine all remaining ingredients in medium-sized bowl and pour into Ziploc bag with the pork. Press out all the air from the bag, seal tightly, and refrigerate. Marinade 4+ hours or overnight (the longer the better).
- Remove pork from fridge about 20 minutes before cooking to allow pork to reach close to room temperature. Drain marinade choose cooking method below:
To smoke the pork (preferred method):
- Set smoker/pellet grill to “high smoke” (220-degrees F) and remove when internal temperature reaches 147-degrees F* (this should take appx. 1 hour. Remove from smoker and wrap in foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches between 147-160* (medium rare to medium). Remove when desired temperature is reached, wrap in foil.
To Oven Roast the Pork:
- Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Roast for appx 1 hour or until internal temp reaches at least 147 degrees.
- Slice into 1/4″ slices and serve immediately.
- If you want the pork a little more done, simmer it longer in the oven.
- Just don’t let the internal temp get above 160 before removing it from the grill or baking pan or you will have dry pork and you will be sad.
- Let the pork rest on a rack and baste with the leftover drippings from the pan.
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