International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Char Siu

Char Siu Recipe (Chinese barbecue pork)

(Chinese barbecue pork)

Image Creative Commons by simon_shek

Average: 3.9 (138 votes)

Originally from southeastern China, char siu barbecue is now a favorite all over Asia. The name translates as "fork-roasted," and describes the method of hanging strips of marinated meat on forked skewers and roasting them in an oven or over an open fire.

Char siu is either the marinade itself or the roast barbecue pork that is the most common char siu dish. As a sauce, char siu is versatile and has endless variations. Also spelled cha siew or chashao.

4 to 6 servings


  • Pork butt, boneless -- 2 to 3 pounds
  • Hoisin sauce -- 3/4 cup
  • Soy sauce -- 1/2 cup
  • Rice wine or dry sherry -- 1/2 cup
  • Honey -- 1/3 cup
  • Sugar -- 1 tablespoon


  1. Slice pork butt into strips about 2 inches wide and 5 inches long.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the hoisin, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, honey and sugar. Add the pork strips and marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Add a rack to a roasting pan and fill the pan with water to come just below the rack. Wipe any excess marinade from the pork and line the strips up neatly in the roasting pan.
  4. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and roast for another 30-40 minutes, turning and basting frequently with the remaining marinade or with peanut or sesame oil.
  5. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve.


  • Char Siu Bao (Chinese barbecue pork buns): prepare the recipe above and shred the meat with your fingers. Moisten with a little extra sauce and use as a filling for Chinese steamed buns, following the bao recipe.
  • Char Siu Shrimp with Bacon: Butterfly shrimp and marinate in char siu sauce for 30 minutes. Wrap the shrimp with bacon, skewer, and grill until cooked through.
  • Marinade Variations and Additions:
    • Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and/or 1 tablespoon minced ginger.
    • Add 2 teaspoons of Chinese 5-spice powder.
    • Substitute 1/2 cup pineapple juice for the hoisin sauce.
    • Substitute wet bean curd for the hoisin sauce (can be found in Asian markets).
    • Add 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil.
    • Add 1 tablespoon hot bean paste for a spicier marinade.
    • Substitute Japanese mirin (sweetened rice wine) for the sherry.
    • Many recipes add up to 2 tablespoons of red food coloring to give a deep red color. This is generally unnessary.
  • Instead of pork butt, use pork spareribs and grill over a charcoal fire.
  • Marinate a whole pork loin, and roast as you normally would a whole pork loin.
  • If you like, baste with honey during last 10 minutes to give the meat an attractive glaze.


i used this recipe for my maths home work

Many thanks for this recipe. I went through all my recipe books but none of them ended up tasting authentic. The tip about the water in the roasting tin was priceless, it gave the meat that tender fall apart quality that is not always achieveable with just roasting. I cant wait to experiment with the marinade! Yum yum!

I just made this with the addition of rubbing dry Char Sui marinate powder on the meat (for color and additional flavor) before applying the wet marinate. As a critic also said..the tip about putting water underneath the roasting rack is truly PRICELESS!!!! It came out amazing. Thank u very much!

Hello Lauren,

I'd like to make this recipe, but I'm not quite sure as to the amount of water to put in the pan, perhaps you can tell me the depth of the rack that you use.

Thank you,


So easy and so tasty!!!

I did not have a roasting pan so I placed an additional pan of water or a lower rack. It was quite the hit with our guests. Very tender, and juicy! Highly recommend this recipe.

I marinated chicken wings in the char siu sauce and it was a hit. I found the longer the marinate time the better taste was a real big hit at my superbowl party!

Quick, easy and delicious. What more could you ask for?

Well done!

Might I suggest the addition of one tablespoon of ground star anise, one tablespoon of 5 spice powder, and 1/4 cup of chinese wine in the marinade... that should pretty much perfect the "char-siu flavor".

Some of my friend's tastes seem to run a bit sweet. When making this for a party I will sometimes make a glaze of mirin (or honey and water), with some 5 spice and glaze the meat one time during the last 15 minutes or so of roasting. Remember, slow roasting works best with this meat.

not bad did infuse some different techniques to it and some extra ingredients but turn out way good.
did a 1:3 ratio of 5 spice to koser then blended that with a 1:2 ratio of cayenne to the 5spice salt, rub all over the pork and let sit in the fridge for 4hrs to cure.
with the heating of the marinate i added a 1 star anise to it (was making a bigger patch then the one above), added sambal to it not much about a 2 tsp worth, half rice vin other half jinjiang rice vin. and 3 tbsp sweet and sour sauce
heated that on second lowest setting for about hr, till i let sit to kool
mix with the curing porked marinate to ur preference and thats it cook away

I enjoy adding shredded beets to get the deep red coloring. Healthier, too. You may also want to add a capful of rosewater and about 1 Tbl of vodka I used the Kuei Hua Chen Chiew, and added the rose water and vodka in this recipe. Another recipe I love calls for the Chinese Rose wine (that I can not find locally). This substitution worked perfectly.

For the sticky shiny glaze, add maltose, and more honey to the marinade for the final coat. Like we say. "Broke da mout"
A hui hou

I find it very easy to put all of the ingredients in a jar (empty pasta sauce jar is perfect), shake it up to blend and pour out whatever I need. I make one big batch and keep it in the fridge, it goes with chicken, duck, pork, lamb and just about everything. Definitely include the five-spice powder, it needs it.

I'm quite surprise that "fork-roasted" method is original from China, as I can see it in very different places, countries and restaurants. This recipe looks very delicious and it surely deserves a try.
calculator sarcina

I'm quite surprise that "fork-roasted" method is original from China, as I can see it in very different places, countries and restaurants. This recipe looks very delicious and it surely deserves a try.
calculator sarcina

This recipe was AMAZING! The proportions for the marinade were a bit much, maybe halve the recipe for that amount of pork.

But there is no denying the end result. Served it up tonight at a dinner party, and it tasted exactly like the real deal. In fact, I would go as far to say it is better than a lot of the Chinese restaurants around my area. This recipe is a keeper, and it's simplicity ensures that this makes the repeat list.