Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)

Sticky, tender & moist Chinese BBQ Pork that has been marinated in a sweet & savory concoction. Super simple to make at home and so delicious.

Sticky, tender & moist Chinese BBQ Pork that has been marinated in a sweet & savory concoction. Super simple to make at home and so delicious.

If you’ve seen rows of glistering roasted meat hanging through clear glass windows in shops or restaurants with Asian-ish BBQ flavors wafting in the air, you’ve probably seen Chinese BBQ Pork aka Char Siu. In the US, you’d usually find them in some Chinese restaurants in large concentration of Chinese communities like San Gabriel Valley in SoCal or most every Chinatown really. In Malaysia, Taiwan or Hong Kong, shops or stalls selling roasted meat are very popular.

In literal terms in Cantonese, char siu means ‘fork roast’. I suppose traditionally the pork was skewered with long forks and roasted in open fire or wood ovens. Dishes made out of the roasted meat are called ‘siu mei’ which usually consists of the roasted BBQ pork, rice or noodles and sometimes vegetables as sides. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sticky, tender & moist Chinese BBQ Pork that has been marinated in a sweet & savory concoction. Super simple to make at home and so delicious.

Mr. V loves his char siu. It’s like pork candy for him. Whenever we eat ‘siu mei’, he’d order his bbq pork. He loves the savory yet sweet glaze on the meat with a little kick from the five spice powder. The meat is tender and juicy on the inside but charred and has a faint heavenly smoked and barbecued flavor on the outside. If you ask him what is heaven? Char Siu is his heaven. Lean char siu, that is.

I, on the other hand, have never fancied char siu probably because it’s slightly sweet. I prefer savory in my main dishes. Period. But since I would like to enjoy a slice of char siu heaven, I used pork belly to compensate. MMMMmmmm. Glistering, juicy, melt in your my mouth roasted pork fat. I love fat.

Sticky, tender & moist Chinese BBQ Pork that has been marinated in a sweet & savory concoction. Super simple to make at home and so delicious.

You know what goes perfectly with these char siu babies? Wonton Noodles. Dry Wonton Noodles that is. Flavored with garlic & shallot oil, they are so addictive, you just can’t stop eating ’em.

And let’s not forget the very important Chinese Pickled Green Chilies to go with these pork. They’re a mix of sour, spicy & sweet. A popular condiment in Chinese cuisine, these pickled chilies go with anything.

Not sure what to do with leftover BBQ pork? How about making some Steamed Chinese BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)?

Char Siu Bao

Or if you love spring rolls like I do, then you’ll want to get your hands on some of these crispy BBQ pork spring rolls with a sweet & spicy sauce.

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Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sticky, tender & moist Chinese BBQ pork that has been marinated in a salty and sweet concoction. Super simple to make at home and so delicious.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Malaysia
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 lb pork belly (see notes 1)

  • Marinade
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 tbs light soy sauce
  • 3 tbs maltose (or honey)
  • 2 tbs hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • 5 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs red fermented bean curd (liquid only), optional
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • ¼ - 1 tsp five spice powder (depending on how much of this flavor you'd like)
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the pork for 1-2 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F (Make sure pork is in room temperature before baking).
  3. Remove the garlic pieces from the pork and place the pork on a rack set on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to catch the drippings.
  4. Strain the excess marinade and discard the garlic. Set aside for basting.
  5. Bake the pork for 20 minutes, flip, baste the pork and bake for another 20 minutes.
  6. Take the pork out, set the oven rack to the highest level and increase the oven temperature to 450 F.
  7. Baste the pork and bake for 5 mintues. Baste once more and bake for another 5 minutes or until charred to your liking.
  8. Put the marinade to boil and let simmer until it thickens slightly to become a sauce. Brush the finished pork with the sauce to give it a shiny glaze. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes before slicing (cut away the hardened skin). Serve with steamed rice or noodles (See notes 4 and 5 on what you can do with the extra sauce and drippings).
1. Pork: For pork belly, cut the pork belly to about ¾"-1" thick. Length does not matter. If using pork shoulder/butt, the cut should be 2-3" wide and ¾-1" thick. Again, length does not matter.

2. Maltose and red fermented bean curd can be found in Chinese markets.

3. You can make bigger batches of these and freeze them. Thaw in the fridge the day before and bake covered at 350F until heated through.

4. Sauce: Extra sauce can be used as dipping for the pork. It can also be used as a seasoning for dry noodles or fried rice.

5. Drippings: Some of the drippings from the pork (collected on the aluminum foil) can be mixed to the sauce to make an even yummier sauce. It can also be used as seasoning for dry noodles as well as act as oil for stir fried dishes.


22 Responses

  1. Shihoko

    Yummy! I am making Ramen today and I prepared store bought Char Siu…… I love sweet flavour of anything. This will go so well with ramen. Would that be ok with you if I link to this recipe for Char Siu, Ai Ping?

    • AiPing

      Oh my… homemade Ramen’s the best!!! And yes char siu goes well with a lot of things. You sure can link to this recipe. I’m honored. 🙂

  2. Barely Vegan

    I’m seriously in love with your website. I can’t get enough!! Beautiful photography, amazing recipes….your blog has it all!! I cannot wait to binge read your posts on my day off this Sunday. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Bam's Kitchen

    You know it is so easy to go and just get Char sui here in HK, that I have never made this Cantonese favorite at home. I can’t wait to try your recipe and your pork buns look absolutely gorgeous.

    • AiPing

      Lol Bobbi. I probably wouldn’t bother making this in Malaysia either. :p But then again, I’ve had very lil luck getting fatty pieces. They’re usually lean. So homemade prevails in that I can use all the pork belly I want. 🙂

  4. Nagi@RecipeTinEats

    You’re genius. Red fermented bean curd? How have I never heard of that before?? And those PORK BUNS! I have been wanting to try them myself for ages!!!! GAHH, so excited!! PS Mamak chicken marinating as I write this 🙂

    • AiPing

      You haven’t? Oh do try it. It’s an acquired taste though. I have the bean curd with congee. The Taiwanese and Chinese use this for marinade and soups as well. Very very good (Well, like vegemite and durian.. good vs not good is dependent on the individual :p). I use it just to add a tinge of red on the pork as well as additional flavor (I’m sure you know restaurants use red coloring). Pork buns, heaven really. 🙂 Can’t wait for your verdict on the chicken.

  5. Rebecca

    Oh wow, this looks amazing and definitely something my husband would love as we’ve been experimenting more with Asian flavors. Those buns look like a great use of the leftovers too!

  6. Simon

    Char Siu is a killer meal! I’d die for it too! I really need to make this traditional version soon! I made one before but as usual it was a last minute version where I had no time to marinate 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • AiPing
      Ai Ping

      I thought the same thing when I first made it. It’s just like roasting any other thing in the oven really. 🙂


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