Char Siu Pork

This Char Siu Pork is almost identical to what you would find in a Chinese restaurant. The name means “fork-roasted”, and it is typically hung over an open flame or in an oven of sorts and roasted until the skin is crispy and slightly charred. When eaten with rice, as I did, the dish is called cha siu fan. You can find char siu pork almost anywhere, and if you’ve never had it before, I highly recommend it. This is a staple in Chinese barbecue and you can’t continue to miss out!

Anyway, I’m pretty proud of this recipe. Especially because I wrote up a recipe that I thought would work and handed it off to Kramer to make, as I had to go to work and wouldn’t be home until 8 PM. It turned out wonderfully, believe it or not! Kramer is a really fantastic cook when he does set foot in the kitchen, and it was so nice to come home from a long day to have dinner waiting for me. The skin itself was out of the world. It was marinated in soy sauce, oyster sauce, granulated sugar, brown sugar, Chinese 5-spice powder, ground ginger, and brushed with honey. The result was a sweet, sticky, and slightly crispy outside with a tender inside. Char siu pork is traditionally made with hoisin sauce, but I was out and oyster sauce is similar in that it is a dark, sweet, slightly pungent sauce. I was very happy to find that the taste was not altered too much by the change; I didn’t notice a difference, but I’m sure a seasoned char siu veteran might. I spooned some of the juices from the pan over the pork before I broiled it, then after broiling it for a few minutes, I brushed it with some honey, as per usual when making char siu, which not only made it look beautiful, it added some extra light sweetness that paired well with the pork and helped to make a nice sauce for the rice. This recipe is so easy and so rewarding, so I hope you’ll make some of this delicious Chinese barbecue in your home soon!

Char Siu Pork
The ingredients.

Char Siu Pork
We had to cut the bone out of the center of our pork and we are not professional butchers by any stretch of the imagination.

Char Siu Pork
Combine your sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Char Siu Pork
Place your pork in a sealable bag or container and add in the marinade. Make sure your pork is as submerged in the marinade as possible and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours and as long as overnight.

Char Siu Pork
Spray your baking dish with non-stick spray and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes on each side, then broil for another 5 minutes or so, until darkened, crispy, and a bit shiny.

Char Siu Pork
Brush the pork with the honey.

Char Siu Pork
Slice thinly and enjoy with rice and/or vegetables.

Char Siu Pork

Char Siu Pork
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
  • 3 pounds boneless pork (butt, tenderloin, shoulder, etc.)
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons Chinese 5-Spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • ¼ cup honey, for brushing over the pork
  • 2 cups rice, cooked according to package directions, for serving
  1. Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, white sugar, brown sugar, Chinese 5-Spice powder, salt, and ginger in a bowl and whisk together. Place your pork in a large sealable bag or container, then add in the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best for the skin to become saturated with the sweet marinade.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line and/or grease a large rimmed pan or dish and place the pork in it. Cover the pan or dish with tinfoil and bake for 25 minutes. Take the pork out of the oven, flip it on its other side, and bake for another 25 minutes.
  3. Take the pork out of the oven and turn the oven's heat up to 450 degrees F, or your broiler setting. Broil the pork for another 5-8 minutes, until the skin is crispy and shiny. Take the pork out, baste it with some of the juices from the pan, and brush with the honey.
  4. Slice at a 45 degree angle and serve over cooked rice. Serves 2-3.


51 Responses

  1. Emma says:

    Curious as to why you added food colouring to this? Looks tasty otherwise!

    • Sydney says:

      Emma: I believe that, traditionally, the red color comes from fermented soy or tofu, but I didn’t have that, and from what I understand, most restaurants add food coloring to the char siu as well. You definitely don’t have to! It’s just for aesthetics.

  2. Ben says:

    I’ve considered making char siu for a long time now, but when you can buy it for 6 bucks a pound (and the restaurant I go to does it very well), it’s just never been worth it. And heck, don’t you live near Flushing?! =p

    Interesting that substituting hoisin for oyster didn’t change the flavor. Hoisin is *much* sweeter.

    • Sydney says:

      Ben: Well, I added enough sugar to compensate, I think. I live near Flushing; it probably only takes 15-20 minutes in a car. However, I have to use public transportation, so it takes over an hour to get there (maybe even longer since I need to take the bus), so it’s not really worth it to me when I can make it at home, haha.

  3. lululu says:

    I didn’t realize this one of my favorites could be so simple to make!

  4. Alicia says:

    Can’t wait to try it! It’s a favorite of mine. And where do you buy the Chinese 5-spice powder? I can’t seem to find it.

    • Sydney says:

      Alicia: I bought it at my local grocery store, but if you can’t find it there I’m sure you can order it online! It’s worth it, I add it to much more than just Chinese dishes; stews and soups, too!

  5. Tina says:

    Looks great! I’ve never had this . I want to try this over the weekend ,but , I have a stupid question . If I use a pork tenderloin , should I leave it whole or cut it into chunks ? My husband loves any kind of Asian food , he will love this ! You and Kramer have a great weekend !

  6. Sydney says:

    Tina: Please use the whole pork tenderloin. We had to cut it into strips because we got a pork shoulder. You may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly, maybe 5 minutes per side, but give it a look and use your best judgement. Please let me know how it goes!

  7. Memoria says:

    Yum! I’m not usually a fan of pork, but this dish looks fantastic! wow.

  8. kel says:

    Silly question, but did you pour the marinade in with the pork to cook or not?

  9. Trish says:

    I have a venison tenderloin in the freezer (given to me). I believe I will try this recipe with it! I know it’s very lean, but so is pork tenderloin, right?

    • Sydney says:

      Trish: Yes, although I don’t know how well venison lends itself to be so sweet like pork does. It really would depend on your taste, I suppose. Let me know how it goes!

  10. Auntie Donna says:

    Go Kramer! You can cook for me anytime! Looks delicious!

  11. SugarCooking says:

    Coming from someone who doesn’t usually like pork, this looks great! I’ll have to try this soon.

  12. Susi says:

    This looks outstanding. I’m printing it off right now. I love making stuff like this at home since the area in AZ I’m living in has terrible Chinese restaurants. I’m always better off cooking at home. Thanks for posting this!

  13. Jen says:

    I think I just drooled a little. Delicious delicious pork!

  14. Megan says:

    I have this marinating in my fridge right now for tomorrow. Saw it on tastespotting and it looked sooo good. Can’t wait & thanks for the recipe.

  15. Megan says:

    Sydney….OMG LOVE LOVE LOVE this pork. This is better than any restaurant even. I made it with steamed jasmine rice and drizzled the juice over the pork and rice…..YUM This is definitely going in the recipe file. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone on the fence about trying. DO IT!! Thanks for the recipe.

  16. Zoe says:

    Yummy! You know what I’m gonna do with the leftovers? Make Chinese Char Siu Baos! I didn’t have Oyster, so used a little bit of Stir Fry Sauce instead – turned out great!

  17. Hillary says:

    I made this yesterday and LOVED it. My husband and friend literally gorged themselves, and ate the entire 3 pounds (with my help). This is probably the best pork dish I’ve ever made. I made a few minor changes to the recipe. I did not use food coloring, but I did use red wine vinegar instead of white, which may have added some pink color. I also did not use the entire amount of honey (used about 2/3 of it). I cut the pork into five large pieces for marinating and roasting, and I marinated for five hours. According to Cooks Illustrated, overnight marinating is almost never beneficial, since in their tests marinades only penetrated a few millimeters no matter how long the soak, and marinating too long can lead to mushiness. This article also recommends poking the meat with a fork so the marinade can better penetrate. I did not do that this time, but I will in the future. Overall, this was a fantastic recipe. I will definitely make this again. Thanks!

  18. Ka Mun says:

    Looks really good, Sydney! Authentic recipe too :) now I really want some char siu fan… Using lean meat is healthier but IMO using slightly fatty cuts of meat is the best, as it leaves the meat moister and gives the sauce a fantastic stickiness. My mum also flings some chopped garlic into the marinade, but I’m not sure about the authenticity of that.

  19. Lindsey says:

    If I only have hoisin sauce, not oyster sauce, how much sugar should I add? Should I omit it altogther? I don’t want to buy oyster sauce but I really want to make this recipe!

  20. rita says:

    Made this tonight and it rocked! My husband loved it and had thirds. I also used hoisin rather than oyster sauce. I reduced the sugar to 2 Tbs. brown sugar and 1/4 c. white sugar and it turned out great.

  21. Dena says:

    This was FANTASTIC! A family hit! I will be making this a lot <3

  22. Dena says:

    This was FANTASTIC! A family hit! I will be making this a lot <3

  23. Jerry says:

    I don’t like 5 spice. What could I use in its place? Any suggestions?

    • Sydney says:

      Jerry: Hmm…I really feel like it’s an ingredient that makes this dish. Do you like turmeric or curry powder? That might be an interesting take on it.

  24. Joe says:

    Hey Sydney, I’ve made this recipe 3 times now, and it’s absolutely delicious! I’ve never had pork come out so tender and tasty, and this recipe (along with the garlic beef and green beans) has opened up a world of asian cooking for me. I have a question, though: I always feel like it’s such a waste when I pour out the marinade after cooking. Do you have any recommendations for things I could do with it after I cook the pork?

    • Sydney says:

      Joe: You can definitely reduce the sauce and drizzle it over the pork! I’m glad that you like it so much and I hope that you keep stopping by!

      • Jaclyn says:

        Hi Sydney,

        Is the reduced marinade what you used for the drizzle in your first photo? Or is that the juices from the pan?

        Also: do you think rice wine vinegar is a suitable substitute for white wine vinegar? I called my mother to ask, and she thinks it’s fine since it’s for an Asian recipe and rice vinegar is essentially an Asian ingredient, but I wanted to run it by the recipe-writer and hear your judgment first!

  25. […] get easier! We served this alongside brown rice and vegetables. Char Siu Pork (from The Crepes of Wrath) Serves 2 1 lb. boneless pork loin 3 T. low-sodium soy sauce 3 T. oyster sauce 1 T. white wine […]

  26. Jaclyn says:

    Hi, I’d really like to make this for my family! Could I substitute rice wine vinegar for white wine vinegar? I was thinking it’d be fine, since rice vinegar is essentially an Asian ingredient, but I wanted to run it by the recipe-writer and hear your judgment first!

  27. Marcelle says:

    Thank you for posting this! I love this dish-I also recommend adding rose wine to the marinade. I like to add the pork to won ton soup. I get pork potstickers and simmer them in chicken broth,

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