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.

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