Out of all the animal proteins, I know and have experimented the least with pork. Due to the lack of knowledge, it’s quite intimidating trying to figure out the right cuts to avoid eating cardboard. Pork can sometimes be referred to as ‘the other white meat’, but it is in fact part of the red meat family. When I hear white meat – I think of chicken breast which correlates to “dry” and that is enough to make me run the other direction.
The pork tenderloin is supposed to be the most tender cut of the pig, but I haven’t had much luck in that department. I also can’t cook a moist pork loin or chop for the life of me; which makes transitioning to pork as protein a nightmare. However, I’ve dabbled with the pork shoulder/butt a lot during this quarantine and now this is one of my favorite recipes! This cut of pork is on the cheaper end of the spectrum which makes it a great contender during the covid meat shortage. Marinating then cooking up a solid piece of char siu pork shoulder has been sparking much joy during these interesting times.
Char Siu is also known as “xa xiu” in Vietnamese or Chinese BBQ Pork in American culture. It’s usually identifiable with a red exterior and most of the time, can be seen hanging from hooks in the windows of Chinese BBQ establishments. The pork has a savory and sweet caramelized coating accompanied by some nice charring. The meat itself is juicy and flavorful. There are so many things you can combine with char siu which makes this a very versatile protein! Below is my easy char siu recipe that is so easy and addicting you’ll find yourself making it again and again!
Char Siu Pork
I N G R E D I E N T S:
- 3lbs of Pork Shoulder
- 5 Tbsp Char Siu Seasoning – Lee Kum Kee Brand
- 1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Tsp Chili Flakes
- 6 Cloves Garlic, Roughly Chopped
- 1 Thumb Size of Ginger, Roughly Chopped
I N S T R U C T I O N S:
- Roughly chop the garlic and ginger, then combine with the remaining of the seasoning ingredients. Mix until combined, then add in pork and fully coat. Note: depending on the size of your pork shoulder – you can cut into 2 in thick strips for better marinating.
- Transfer to a reusable zip-lock bag and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. For best result marinate overnight.
- To cook in the air fryer for ~1lb strip: Add some water (1/2 cup) to the bottom of the basket to avoid smoking when the marinade drips during the cooking process. Turn the heat on 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Flip half way. Once meat is done there should be a nicely charred and caramelized. Internal temp should read 145+.
Note: The larger the piece of pork the longer it will take to cook.
- Slice and pair with rice and greens, or any other way listed below:
- Char Siu Banh Mi
- Char Siu Noodle Stir Fry
- Char Siu Wrap With Scallion Pancake
- Char Siu Pork Bun
- Char Siu with Wonton Noodle Soup
- Char Siu Slider
- Sky is the limit
- I recently tried sous-vide char siu and my mind is blown! If you have the device and have some time on your hand, cook the pork in a 140 degree water bath for 8 hours. Then coat with a thin layer of the char siu seasoning and torch, broil, or air fry to get a nice crisp. The result is strikingly similar to restaurant quality char siu and is tender, juicy and moist.
- The red coloring from traditional char siu comes from red bean curd powder or red food coloring. I did not want to add any additional coloring to my marinade but feel free to branch out. The color of this recipe is a darker reddish brown which I feel is beautiful in it’s own right.
- Instead of using Lee Kum Kee, you can (and I have) make char siu using the seasoning packets. NOH Seasoning is very popular and have great reviews. I’ve used the Lobo brand and it was very easy. The marinade color is a bright pink mixture which can look a little questionable, however after cooking it deepened and the meat turn the traditional red.
- If you have a meat thermometer I recommend using it! Pork can be perfectly safe to eat even if it is pink. If the meat is 145 degrees then you can eat it! Pork shoulder/butt is more forgiving and won’t dry out as easily. However, if you want to take it off the heat at 140 and wrap foil around it to secure the temp and let it rise for safe eating – that will be another way to get juicy meat.
- TSA Approved: I know the world isn’t doing much air travel lately, but once we can get back to jetsetting – you can bring this along with you anywhere you go! Char Siu would make such a good travel companion, especially if you put it into a sandwich or wrap!