Sunday, October 3, 2010

Char Sui Pork

Char sui.  If you've never heard of it, it's Chinese barbecued pork.  And it is one of the most wonderful things I have every stumbled upon.  I have a recipe for it, but it's a pain to make because the char sui sauce includes no less than eight ingredients, some of which I'll never use for anything other than char sui.  I'm in college.  I'm not doing that!  However, I came across pre-made char sui sauce in an Asian market in Chinatown, which had everything all ready to go--just marinade, bake, and eat.  I can do that!  And it was well worth it, even with my little excursion of burning myself.  I burnt myself?  Sure I did.  Not horribly, but it hurt enough for me to be yelling "SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!" in the kitchen and for my suitemate to come out and ask me if I was OK.  Now my fingers burn when I wash my hands.

OK, so I guess I'll bite and tell you the story:  My oven is tiny.  No, I mean reeeeally tiny.  So tiny that my 9" x 13" baking pan nearly takes up the whole thing.  If you read my recipe, you have to fill this pan with water while the pork is baking, so, naturally, the water gets damn hot.  So about 10 min. into the baking process, I decide that I'm going to pull the pork out and have a little peek.  Well, my oven is so tiny that I can't really see in it, so that requires me to pull the rack out.  I had 1 1/2 in. of piping hot water in this pan, and my racks don't slide easily.  The water, all 9000 degrees of it as far as I'm concerned, sloshed out onto my hand.  Sure, I was wearing an oven mitt, but the water soaked right through it and down to my hand.  Can we say it hurt just a little bit?  *cough cough*  Cue me swearing in the kitchen.  But here's the thing.  Even though the water has worked its way down to my skin and is now allowing the searing heat of the oven rack to get to my fingertips, I CAN'T LET GO!  If I let go of the rack, it will tip forward and spill more water on me.  So I gritted my teeth and as quickly and carefully as possible pushed the rack back in the oven and shut the door, whipping off the oven mitts and plunging my hands into ice water.  So there.  I'll tell you right now, don't fill your pan that much.  Just don't do it.

Here's a tip if you've got an oven like mine and your pork's done baking:  Don't remove the pan, don't touch the over rack.  Just pull out the rack the pork is on.  Turn off the oven and leave the door open for everything to cool.  Only if and when the oven and everything in it is cool should you attempt to remove the pan, and you'll probably end up spilling it anyway.  Although, this should be the case only if you're an idiot like me and use some obnoxious amount of water, but I digress.

OK, so I'll shut up and give you the recipe.  You should try this because it's awesome, and makes the most flavorful and tender pork you've ever had!

char sui has a lovely salty/sweet caramel-like glaze
Char Sui Pork

1 lb. pork (pork loin or shoulder is best), cut into quarters
6 Tbsp. char sui sauce, divided
hot cooked rice (either make it fresh or use a frozen rice packet)
vegetables (I used baby bok choy and baby spinach)

Put the pork pieces in a bowl and add 5 Tbsp. of the char sui sauce.  Using your hands, toss the pork around in the sauce to coat well.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to marinate.  Marinate for MIN. 2 HOURS, up to overnight.  (I let mine marinate between 4 and 5 hours).

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Take a large baking pan and fill it no more than 1/2 in. with water (more than that, and your story will sound like mine above.)  Place a rack (a cooling rack works well) on top of the pan of water and add the pork pieces, well coated in the sauce, on top.  Yes, some of the sauce will drip into the water.  That's OK, just don't let the pork dangle into the water.  Put the whole thing into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  (If you don't have rice already made, start cooking your rice now.)

After 30 minutes, check to see if the pork is done by slicing a piece open at the very thickest part of the thickest piece.  It should be all white on the inside--no pink!  If it needs more cooking, return the pork to the oven and keep checking it every so often (maybe 5-7 min. at a time depending on how raw it was at the first check) until the pork is done cooking.  It should be very juicy.  Remove the pork from the oven and let stand at least 10 minutes.  This helps it suck all the juices back into itself.  DON'T CUT IT YET!!!

Heat the last Tbsp. of char sui sauce in the microwave, just until it's fluid.  Brush this extra sauce all over the cooked pork.

Heat up your rice if you're using leftover rice or a frozen packet, and boil water in a pot for the vegetables.  Add the spinach and bok choy and boil until tender.  Drain well.

Cut your pork into 1/4 in. slices and serve with the rice and vegetables.


  1. What a coinkadink! I made Chinese BBQ pork last night, too. Only I cheated even more. I bought mine already marinated. YUM!!

  2. I'm sorry you got burnt, I'm gonna have to try these recipes, they all sound and look yummy. :D

  3. Thanks, Juliza. My hand is fine now, thank goodness.

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