Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Funny title isn't it? Isn't it far much easier to call it Char Siu instead of "Roasted Pork Belly in China Town"? Anyway, this was the third time I attempt on the recipe of this book below following my energy draining Herbal Roasted Duck and my highly successful Crispy Roast Pork!

First of all, this was a recipe all-gone-wrong. I am posting this up so that experts out there could provide me with some tips, and if possible, to share with me a good recipe for making tasty Char Siu.

The recipe calls for 1kg of pork belly. After informing my trusted butcher that I want a good piece of pork belly for making Char Siu, he assured me that he will choose a nice cut for me. I was eyeing for those with several layers of fats and meat but he told me the one he chose was the most perfect for making Char Siu. I wasn't too satisfy with the cut but I shouldn't argue with the expert, right? WRONG! The piece I bought was a huge chunky piece of meat with only one layer of fats on top with the skin removed. Anyway, I have already boycott my used-to-be trusted butcher!!

For the marinade, the ingredients are:
2 pieces of Nam Yue (red fermented beancurd)
1 tbsp malt sugar
150g caster sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp five spices powder
1 tbsp "Shaoxing" wine
Few drops of red food colouring

Mix the marinade ingredients well until the sugar is completely dissolved. I wonder if 5 spices powder necessary as I find the end result tasted weird due to the five spices powder taste.

Mix well over pork belly and add in about 2 tbsp of chopped garlic. I used crushed garlic pip instead so that it is easier to remove before roasting. Marinade it overnight.

Arrange the marinated pork on the roasting wire rack, roast in a preheated oven at 200 degree Celcius for 15 minutes. Dish out, dip the pork belly with some marinade sauce. Continue to roast for further 20 -30 minutes until cooked thoroughly. Dish out. Bring the remaining marinade sauce to boil. Cook until the sauce thicken, remove from heat and pour over the roasted pork belly or serve it separately.

The meat was a bit dry. Too lean, hence tough! Tastewise, it wasn't what I expected. It doesn't taste anything familiar to me, especially when I could taste the strong five spices powder. I really wonder if this is the way they serve Char Siu in China Town aka Petaling Street. I am not giving up! I shall attempt this again but before that, I would need to do some more research on the marinade sauce. Anyway, do you any great Char Siu recipe to share??


Life for Beginners said...

No clue since I'm no charsiew expert either but I do admire your gumption and persistence in trying again and again.

You'll get the Perfect Char Siew one day... and that'd be the day we'd all break down your front door clamouring, "Please Ms. Pea, can we have some more... char siew?"


Sam's mistress said...

Gosh, I wish I could help, but this is the first time I've heard of char siew. Sounds great! I'm sorry it didn't work for you - this time! Keep trying, you'll get it soon, and good job posting. You'll definitely get the advice you need!!!

terri@adailyobsession said...

i've seen one of the best char siew cook make his char siew n he just used lots of sugar n black soy sauce. no 5 spice, wine or nam yue, def no nam yue. the cut is important (ask for "gub sum toe"--it's soft n has fat, but btcher must know how to cut it into char siew size) best char siew roasted in a covered charcoal fire. um um!

er..have u tried my recipe--see meat (pork)? i think it's pretty good. u can roast it too other than use an amc pot.

Sarah said...

I think loads of sugar is the secret. I use almost 1/2 cup of sugar for 500g of meat. But I don't really eat the gravy at the end so I'm hoping it's not too bad. I also don't use nam yue. I put a little rose wine too, not too much just about 1 tbsp.

Oh also, I usually cook the charsiu with the marinade on the stove over low fire. Let it simmer until your desired texture and the sauce has thickened. Then grill or broil it until charred. I find that it's hard to control the outcome of the meat texture if just using oven. If using this method, meat won't be dry.

Selba said...

Mom and I have been trying to make home cooked char siu but it always turned up not as good as we expected. Not sure whether it's because we didn't put MSG.

vialentino said...

wow wow...look really delicious....i ate a lot of pork meat at taiwan recently....when see this....my stomach sounding liow

Live2Talk said...

i so wanted to help you there by asking my grandma the recipe because my mom's side used to monopoly the pork market in ampang once upon a time ... and my grandma stall is famous for char siew and as far as i can remember, it was damn good! But now she can't even recognize me ler :( sorry babe.

worldwindows said...

Char Siew marinate with 5 spice powder? Thought it was used for siew yok.

Precious Pea said...

KennyMah: Don't worry, when that day really comes, the door to my Char Siu shop will always be wide open for you. Hehehe.

sam's mistress: Char Siu is yummy, do try if you have a chance.

terri: You are so right. I was scratching my head when i saw the ingredients for the marinade sauce. Doesn't seems right. More like for Siu Yoke. I will check out your recipe after this!

Sarah: Ahhh....thanks for the tips. Yes, I do agree that way will be moist and juicy. I will definitely try your method.

selba: LOL! MSG do wonders isn't it? But for home cooked meals, i seldom use MSG. Why? You check out my hair on my bathroom floor and you will know why.

vialentino: Ooo..holiday in taiwan? Lucky you! I do wish to visit Taiwan one day.

live2talk: Cannot recognize you never mind..but who knows? Maybe she can still remember the recipe. Last time i went and consult my grandmother (who also cannot recognised me) how to boil red bean soup and she taught me leh!!

worldwindows: Exactly! How weird. Well...Petaling Street Style! HAHAHA!

jason said...

I read in cooking book before (the writer is not Chinese!) that to continues to baste the meat with the marinade while grilling.

As to solve tough meat issue, maybe you can see this http://steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/08/28/how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks/

CUMI & CIKI said...

happy 2009 pea! all the best for the new year:)

ekeng said...

Ivy, i wanna open a char siew rice stall in PJ. You wanna join me? hahaha :)

ling239 said...

hmm... maybe something wrong with the recipe ? :p

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I don't use bean sauce in mine, but the other ingredients are similar. My proportions are different though. And I add ketchup for a bit of color, and honey for thickening. Wanna try my char siu recipe and see if it works for you?

Precious Pea said...

Jason: This recipe states the same too..i kept brushing the marinade sauce over as i grill. But the marinade sauce not good and that spoilt everything.

cumi & ciki: Hey, you are back! Happy New Year to you too!

ekeng: Wah..where? when?

ling239: Definitely very wrong.

wandering chopsticks: Thanks! I will check out your recipe now.

noobcook said...

It actually looks quite nice to me hehe ... hope u find the perfect char siu recipe soon ^o^

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sc said...

am sure 2nd try would be better! but it does looks good in the picture though :)

Nic (KHKL) said...

i remember someone telling about the oven factor when it comes to char siew bbq-ing. and the cut of the belly plays a part as well. i believe with a few more practices, u'll be able to master it.

gambatte precious pea! ;)

Raynebow said...

That was pretty commendable and i thot the cha-siew looked nice :-) I'm sure you'll find a better recipe soon!

Precious Pea said...

noobcook: Thanks and I hope so too!

FP: Will do.

sc and raybowne: Looks good isn't it? But sadly it tasted weird. I didn't like it at all.

Nic: Haik!! I won't give up!!!

wmw said...

Ah...the famous recipe book. I don't mind to volunteer myself as "taste testers" when you're doing your trial runs :o). Happy New Year!

fatboybakes said...

gina says you should pressure cooker the marinaded meat first, then only grill....
but yeah, no need nam yue and 5 spice one la....

babe_kl said...

pea, i made this before and i dun have any issue except the sugar din melt properly. i simmer the sauce till its slightly thickish before using.

my version using the same recipe practically can't taste nor smell the 5 spice powder. perhaps you've gotten yrself some very strong 5 spice powder. i've gotten mine sometime back, maybe the smell/taste might not be that strong any more hahaha.

i guess the most important about char siu and siew yoke is the cut of the meat. even though i've asked for leaner cut but my butcher gave me those with fats in between.


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