Easy, Sweet and Sticky Chinese Pork Char Siu

I think I can speak for my whole family (except the vegetarian) when I say that those red strips of pork from Chinese takeout are the best part and there’s never enough. Pork Char Siu is quite possibly the dish that I make that takes the longest to prepare only because of the wait time while it marinates. At first it seemed intimidating but in reality, it’s really not a complicated or physically demanding dish, you just need to plan ahead properly to give the marinade time to work its magic. Plus, homemade Char Siu has little burnt end bits that are crispy and so divine. It gives a BBQ flavor without actually firing up the BBQ. I only make it a few times a year but it’s a meal to be remembered.

Rice Vinegar: Traditionally this dish is made with Shaoxing wine which may not be readily available for everyone so I use rice vinegar which you can get at nearly any large grocery store either in the Asian food section or with the regular distilled or apple cider vinegars.

Red food coloring: The red food coloring brings no flavor to the dish and is therefore completely optional. Traditionally a red fermented tofu is used but again it is not an ingredient that you can get just anywhere. Since the tofu does not add a lot of flavor it is easily replaced.

Meat notes: Although I use pork shoulder you can also use pork belly or pork butt or even chicken thighs (cooking times will change but keep the same process) and still achieve a deliciously cooked meat. The one I buy is already sliced into portions so it’s very simple for me to use. If you need to cut yours up yourself before cooking, make sure to slice across the grain to keep the meat from being too tough. Whatever cut you choose it’s important that the meat marinates for at least 8 hours, overnight is best. You should pull the meat out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature before baking it. The drippings from the meat will make washing the baking pan a pain in the butt so you really, really, need to line it with tinfoil.

Chinese five spice powder is a mixture of several different spices. The spices and amounts included will vary slightly from brand to brand. Chinese five spice contains / may contain, Ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, turmeric and Sichuan peppercorns. The most common ones contain star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns.

This should go without saying but I’m going to say it anyway. You cannot use the marinade on the fully cooked pork. If you brush on more marinade after the pork is fully cooked, you will get cross contamination because the raw pork was sitting in the marinade. If you want extra sauce, take the remaining marinade and boil it in a saucepan for a few minutes before using.

Pork Char Siu

Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cuisine Chinese


  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red food coloring optional
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 lbs. Boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick strips or fillets.

For final glaze

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp warm water


  • In a large bowl or one gallon freezer bag, add all the ingredients except the pork shoulder and stir well.
  • Add the pork shoulder to the bag or bowl and massage thoroughly makeing sure that every inch of the shoulder has been covered by the marinade.
  • Place the bag or bowl in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 8 hrs. Make sure the bag is sealed or the bowl covered airtight.
  • The next day pull the pork out of the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature. It's very important that the pork not be too cold when you go to cook it.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking pan with tin foil and place a baking rack on top.
  • Put the pork shoulder onto the baking rack and place into the oven for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes baste the pork with extra marinade. Cook for another 20 minutes.
  • In a small bowl add the extra honey and water and mix well for the final glaze.
  • After you pull the pork from the oven and add more marinade and then brush on honey water glaze on top of the marinade. Cook for a final 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and check to make sure that the internal temperature has reached 145 degrees F. Let the meat rest before cutting into.
Keyword bbq, cantonese, char siu, chinese, Pork

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