Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Char Siu...Chinese BBQ Pork

Char Siu, is Chinese Barbecue Pork which is a very popular appetizer in Chinese restaurants on the West Coast. The best Char Siu can be found in the Chinatown's of Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Portland.

When you walk by a restaurant in Chinatown, and see the reddened meat hanging in the window under heat lamps you know you have a chance to try the real thing. The red comes from the red dye #2 in the Chinese BBQ Glaze, and the marinade the meat sits in for a day or two. I pass on the red dye #2 in my recipe, but you can add a few drops if you wish, it won't hurt you, and it add's the traditional aesthetic appeal.

Back to the meat in the was marinated for a day, or two in a mixture that includes the red dye, and it is never Pork Tenderloin because Pork Tenderloin does not have a lot of fat in it, and dripping fat of course is what gives meat it's extra flavor. Pork in the US is much leaner than it used to be, so it is tough to get the authentic Char Sui of our fathers even when you use a fattier cut like Boston Butt.

Most of the West Coast Chinese restaurants that don't have a Char Siu Window follow a traditional recipe like this to create a Westernized version of the dish.

Char Siu Pork Tenderloin

4 Pork Tenderloin's
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
Garlic Cloves
Finely Chopped Shallots
Sesame Oil
Brown Sugar
Red Dye #2
Powdered Ginger Root
Hoisin Sauce
Five Spice Powder
Hot Pepper Flakes
Rice Wine
Kosher Salt
Dry Sherry
Sesame Seeds
Chinese Mustard
Chopped Scallions

Combine all the ingredients except for the scallions, mustard, and sesame seeds. Warm in a sauce pan to meld the flavors. Place the meat in a zip lock bag. Pour the cooled marinade over the meat, and refrigerate for a day or two.

Since we are using a Pork Tenderloin which is very lean we have to be very careful how we cook it so we don't dry the cut out. Roast the Pork at 220 degree's for 20 minutes on a rack over a 1/4 inch of water. Turn the Pork and reduce the temperature to 185 degrees and roast for another twenty minutes, don't forget to baste with the marinade.

Take the pork out of the oven and turn the broiler on high. Coat the Pork with the sticky Char Siu Glaze. You can buy it at almost any grocery store store, or make it from the recipe below. Broil the meat for five minutes till the glaze caramelizes, and the edges of the meat start to char. Take it out and glaze the other side, and repeat the process.

It can be served hot, or cold, but it is always sliced thinly. I garnish it by putting Sesame Seeds and Chopped Scallions over the top. I then dip it in the hot mustard, and dredge it through the Sesame Seeds then stuff it into my mouth.

Char Siu Boston Butt

If you want to be more authentic you can use a Boston Butt rather than a Pork Tenderloin. You need to trim it out into smaller pieces and leave a lot of the fat on. You then marinate the meat in the same recipe as the Pork Tenderloin. The difference is how you cook it. You hang the meat on small sharpened stainless steel "S" hooks, and suspend it over broiler pan of water in the oven. This mimics the technique done under the heat lamps in the Chinatown restaurants. The cooking time is longer because the meat is a tougher cut, but you still use your broiler to caramelize the the sauce on the meat.

Both versions are great, the difference is the tenderloin is lean, and very moist, while the Boston Butt has more fat. As the fat melt it bastes the hanging meat.

Char Siu High Tech
Chinese Barbecue is different from Western Barbecue because of the absence of smoke. They both however utilize steam to keep the meat moist. Historically Char Siu was fatty pieces of marinated Pork that was roasted on a skewer over an open fire than promptly eaten caveman style. Heat lamps have replaced the open fire as the dish has adopted more of a Greek Gyro style of cooking.
A custom, modern, oven capable of doing Char Sui the would be an infrared rottiserie which is now available with some outdoor grills as an option.

Char Siu Fried Rice

Fried Rice is actually China's favorite way of serving leftovers. Chinese families take the leftover Rice from last nights dinner throw it in a Wok and mix it what was left in the larder. In America it is more standardized, and is a popular side dish at dinner in all Asian restaurants. Fried Rice for breakfast however was a standard with many Asian families.

1 Cup White, or Brown Rice
2 Cups water
Chicken, Beef or Pork Bullion
Slice of Butter

Bring the water to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook the rice for 45 minutes in a pot with a tight fitting lid. When the rice is done I prefer to cool it a few hours, or overnight in the fridge before using it.

Cold Cooked Rice
Soy Sauce
Chopped Onions
Chopped Celery
BBQ Pork
Sweet Chinese Sausage
Sliced Almonds
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Peanut Oil
Sesame Oil

I heat up the Wok and add the Peanut Oil.

One the peanut oil is hot I add the egg and fry it up. This is the key, scramble the egg first before adding the other ingredients.

Once the egg is cooked break it into to small pieces, and add the vegetables, get them warm and a little translucent before you add the rice. One the rice is added cook the mixture for five minutes stirring it in your Wok, and then add your Pork, Sweet Sausage, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, and Almonds to finish. Cook until the mixture develops a nice glaze and serve topped with chopped Scallions.

1 comment:

mbscook said...

Could you provide amounts for the ingredients?