Saturday, February 23, 2008

Char Siu (叉烧肉)

Picture from here.

As a novice cook, I never realized that the food I eat at restaurants can easily be replicated at home. Take zuppa toscana as an example. I would never in millions years know to look for the recipe online and make it at home. I always figured that if I wanted the soup, I must visit Olive Garden. Then Luke showed me the light.

Same with char siu. Char siu is basically the Chinese version of barbecued pork. It's a bit savory and sweet. If cooked right, soft and juicy. It's heaven over white rice. It's one of my favorite Chinese foods and it's always a treat when I get them as take-outs (which is rarely!). As a visual, you usually find them hanging like this. Picture from Wiki.

Years ago after I started going to Luke's parents' house for dinners, I would find char siu at dinner tables. Sometimes his mom buys them, but sometimes she makes them at home! I later found out that she uses char siu seasoning mix packet to prepare it, but adds her own spices. It tastes so good and I've always wanted to try making them myself.

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I looked for the seasoning mix packet while at a local Chinese grocery store . I found the packet (pictured above) for .99/packet. Following the instructions on the back, I bought 1.5 lbs of boneless pork butt. I mixed the seasoning mix packet with 1/2 cup of water and marinaded the pork butt in a bag overnight. The instructions said to cook in the oven for a *very long time*, but I cooked it on the stove top over medium heat instead to save gas. The results were not too bad! I didn't think the flavor got soaked in enough. However, Luke loved it and that was enough for me. :)

So I tried it again for the 2nd time yesterday. This time, I added a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon and hoisin sauce to the marinade for extra flavor. I marinaded it for a longer period of time and the results were much better! I cooked half of it last night for dinner and Luke and I gobbled it all down. This morning, I cooked the other half and delivered it to my parents house. Hope they will like it too!

Tips:

1) Once the pork is thoroughly cooked, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it. This will help retaining the juices inside.
2) Buy pork butt with fat in it. Extra fat = extra softness = extra flavor = extra tasty
3) Cook on the stove top will speed up the process. Luke's mom cooks in the oven, but mine still tastes very similar.
4) Have a big appetite ready when you make char siu!

Let me know how yours turn out!

3 comments:

  1. does it actually say pork butt on the label? :) I don't know if I can find that here. All I notice is pork shoulder, rib. I'll let you if I try the recipe.

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  2. That's it, Joyce is trying to kill me! Slowly but surely. And she's doing it with food, which makes it even worse cuz...I love to eat! It all started with the cake balls. Then one night of the bbq and last night with some killer Thai chicken (she hasn't posted on that yet, but OMG was it good!). They were all much better than restaurant quality too and ascends to the levels of "classic home cooked" stuff. The kinda stuff you can eat over and over again until you die. Hell, if I die with that sort of stuff in my mouth, I'd be dying happy. ^-^ Only other way I'd like to check out is ... well ... you know ... in the bedroom...

    I'm trying to lose weight, but seriously, I've been getting wider and wider because of this. I need to stop really. But Joyce sure isn't making it easy on me.

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  3. Yi-Ju, yes, it really does say pork butt on the label. Although I am sure shoulders or ribs would work just fine too. Good eating!

    Obese, you may want to stop eating that bag of chips...:)

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