A good day for me is usually one involving quality time with the kids, exercise, and some tinkering in the kitchen. At the moment, I’m still high on endorphins from this evening’s run. I had a pleasant and fruitful day with the kids, and the Char Siew we made for dinner turned out exceptionally well. So it’s been a good day.
I first made Char Siew some years back, when it was part of the menu at a family dinner I cooked to celebrate my mom-in-law’s birthday. Back then, I only had a table-top oven which was relatively small in size. But it was a good microwave-convection combination oven, which in those days didn’t come cheap. It was my first oven, and I have fond memories of learning how to bake and roast with it. I’m glad it’s gotten a new lease of life in another household with someone who also enjoys cooking. But I digress.
I remember wondering how I should make Char Siew, then looking for a recipe online. That’s when I discovered Lily’s Wai Sek Hong, which is a useful resource for Chinese and Asian recipes. This Char Siew recipe was originally based on Lily’s recipe, but I’ve experimented with it and tweaked it as I went along so the quantities and method aren’t the same anymore. I actually think it’s pretty easy to make, and once you can do this, you probably won’t want to buy char siew from the neighbourhood roast meats stall again.
There are two ways you could cook this: If you want very succulent Char Siew, but without the charring, you can simply place it in a tray (line tray with foil first, otherwise it’ll be hell to clean) in the oven at 220 degrees celsius, first covered in foil for 15 mins, then remove the foil, return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, then glaze it and return to the oven for a further 12 minutes or until it the pork appears shiny. The Char Siew turns out really juicy and tender this way, but you don’t really get any charred bits.
If you like it charred, then place the pork on wire rack fitted over a roasting pan (again, line pan with foil), add some water into the pan (about 1cm depth) and just roast on 230 degrees celsius covered with foil for 10 minutes, then, remove foil, glaze and continue to roast (uncovered) for another 20 minutes, checking to ensure it doesn’t burn.
I prefer the first method, as the meat retains much more moisture, and because the marinade and glaze don’t get burnt off as in the case with the second method, there’s much more flavour as well. What I’m posting is the first method, but if you like your Char Siew charred, you could try the second method I’ve mentioned.
800g pork shoulder or pork loin (or tell your butcher you’re making char siew)
3 tbs Hoisin sauce
1.5 tsp garlic powder (or finely-chopped garlic)
3 tsp soya sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1.5 tbs Hua Teow Chiew (Chinese Wine)
3/4 tsp Five Spice Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1.5 tbs dark soya sauce
1.5 tbs honey
1.5 tbs cooking oil
Mix all seasoning ingredients together and marinade pork in it for about 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius.
Place pork in a tray (line tray with foil first) together with all the marinade and cover tray with foil, then put in the oven for 15 mins at 220 degrees celsius.
Remove the foil covering and return to oven for a further 15 minutes.
Mix glaze ingredients together in a bowl and brush glaze all over pork thoroughly, then return to oven for a further 12 minutes or until the pork appears shiny.
Let stand for 20-30 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.