Chinese Roast Pork (Char Siu)
It’s easy to find great Chinese roast pork in Las Vegas. All around Las Vegas Chinatown, in it’s grocery stores, shops and restaurants, it’s sold by the pound. Sometimes called Chinese BBQ Pork or Char Siu, it’s not actually barbecued, but roasted after being marinated in a mixture that frequently contains red food coloring that gives it a “barbecued” appearance. The pork is marinated in a sweet mixture perfumed with Chinese five spice powder, a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan pepper and fennel seeds. Red food coloring is traditionally used to give the pork a reddish color, but is totally optional.
Chinese roast pork is served in a variety of ways; by itself as an appetizer, simply served sliced over fresh vegetables and rice or as an ingredient in stir fries, steamed buns, dumplings, fried rice, sandwiches, and soups. It can be roasted either outdoors on a BBQ or indoors in the oven. Boneless pork loin can be used, but the best Chinese roast pork uses fattier cuts such as pork shoulder. The following marinade also makes fabulous Chinese BBQ ribs.
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 cup good quality soy sauce (Kim Lan is very good)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp five spice powder
3 cloves garlic mashed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
¼ cup sherry
½ tsp Asian sesame oil
few drops red food color (optional)
3-4 lbs pork roast
Cut the roast into 3 or 4 smaller pieces and place in a large zip lock bag or large deep baking dish with high sides. Combine all of the marinade ingredients and pour over the meat, turning to coat it well. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight turning occasionally.
Remove the meat from the marinade, place on a shallow rack in an aluminum foil lined baking pan (to make clean up easier) and roast in a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature is 160 degrees or the juices inside are no longer pink (roasting time will depend on the thickness of the meat). Baste the meat several times with the marinade as it roasts.
Remove from the oven, let rest 10 minutes and served thinly sliced with fresh Chinese stir fried vegetables and steamed rice. Leftover unsliced roast freezes well when wrapped tightly and frozen in freezer bags for later use in many other Chinese recipes.