Char Siu, a red sweet and salty BBQ marinated roast pork, is an iconic Cantonese roast meat and served as thin sliced strips on top of noodles and rice dishes or just simply packed in a takeaway container for supper with family or friends. It is definitely one of the first top foods we would attack for whenever we go back to Hong Kong.
At first we had doubts about whether we could achieve the ‘authentic taste’ of Char Siu , but as enthusiastic-amateur-home-chefs we are, we rigorously experimented and can safely say we have accomplished it (well at least to our liking). While developing on our char siu recipe, we have introduced two new Asian ingredients in our pantry/refrigerator; the red fermented tofu and maltose. From what we had researched, the traditional red colour originated from the red fermented tofu and its red sauce. However, we still couldn’t pull off that shiny bold crimson glaze without a drop of colouring food dye. Maltose is a more viscous but less sweet version of honey and its very difficult to work with without making a mess. You have been warned. Occasionally, I would cheekily scoop a spoonful of maltose and consume it to satisfy my sugar cravings. Although this recipe is very simple, the annoying part is tweaking the marinade ingredients and its ratios. Surprisingly, Mel prefers our version more than our usual takeaway restaurant ones (in Melbourne). She gave a stamp (a smile) of approval. We are excited that we can now pursue our other dishes since char siu is a key ingredient.
The first step: purchase a pork neck scotch and slice it into approximately 3-cm thick long strips. Next prepare the marinade and mix the content well. You will need to continuously stir until the maltose is fully dissolved. Marinate the thin pork strips at least overnight, but we recommend 48 hours for the best result. We have tried pork tenderloin, it was tender…. but we felt it wasn’t the right cut in terms of overall flavour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove pork from refrigerator and let it rest for 20 minutes. If possible, wrap a tray with aluminium foil, place a rack on top of it and then place the pork on the rack for it to rest. It is easier to clean up the tray afterwards. In the meantime, make the basting marinade by pouring the marinade in a saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of maltose, bring to a simmer and reduce for 5 minutes or until it thickens. Baste the pork and oven it for 20 minutes. Baste again and flip the pork and oven for another 20 minutes. Finally, increase the oven to 200°C and continue basting and flipping the pork after every 5 minutes for 20 minutes.
The char siu should ‘char’ a little as its sticky coating caramelises. You may increase the oven to 220°C in the last 10 minutes to have more ‘char’ or ‘crisp’.
Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serve with noodles or rice or simple by itself on a plate to share! If there are any leftovers, use them for yummy stir fried rice or noodles!