Accordingly to Wikipedia, char siu literally means "fork-roast" with the meaning of char being fork and siu being roast. Traditionally, char siu are long strips of seasoned boneless pork skewered with forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire to cook. Typically, char siu is usually the shoulder cut of pork, seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, red fermented bean curd, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, red food colouring and sherry or rice wine and roast until its exterior layer turn dark red. For a final touch, maltose may be used to give char siu its characteristic shiny glaze. Although it seems not very technical at all for us to roast char siu at home, most Asians including us prefer the convenience of buying char siu at their favourite Chinese restaurants instead of roasting at home. For some who likes to roast their own char siu, there are a lot of variations that I came across. Some prefer to use pork neck. Some uses just hoisin and oyster sauce. And, some uses the ready made char siu sauce.
This recipe by Nigella Lawson that I've cooked is found in the book, How to Eat from its low-fat chapter. To be honest, my eye brow raised when I first read this recipe and wonder what will a non-Chinese, Nigella know about char siu? In fact, I can tell that Nigella sounds very modest with her writings and mentions that her char siu is "not quite char siu, it's just char siu-ish".
Char siu-ish? Instead of using the traditional fatty pork shoulder, Nigella uses the skinnier pork tenderloin. She has two recipes of marinade and I chose the first one which consists of everything that I have in my pantry. I must admit that the flavour of the marinade I used is pretty good and nice to know this version of char siu is "skinny" too.
Happy? Seriously, there is really nothing much to complain about this fantastic recipe except that I have to bast the char siu at least ten times while roasting it...
|Nigella's char siu served with egg noodles and choy sum|
|Marinating the pork tenderloin|
|Lots of basting and roasting...|
|The char siu was cooking in its own juice and can't develop an outer dark reddish brown colour. Transfer it to a new foil will fix the problem.|
|Slicing the "skinny" char siu|
|This is how I served our homemade char siu|
|Nice to eat with or without any sauce...|
Here's the recipe mostly adapted from the book, How to eat by Nigella Lawson
(with my notes and modification in blue)
One pork tenderloin, about 300g
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp sweet sherry
(I used Hua Tiao wine)
2 tbsp honey
2 scant tbsp dark muscovado sugar
(I used this sugar. If available, you can substitute this with dark brown sugar.)
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the pork tenderloin in half across. Place a piece of pork in each plastic freezer bag and pour in half the marinade. Make sure that the pork is well coated with the marinade and leave them in the fridge for at least 24 hrs.
To cook the pork, preheat the oven to 220°C or 200°C fan forced. Take the pork out of the marinade, reserving the marinade. Line a baking dish with tin foil and place the pork on it. Bake for 15 mins, then turn the oven down to 160°C or 150°C fan forced and bake the pork for another 20-30 mins, basting regularly (I did mine for 45 mins and blast my pork for more than 10 times!).
At this stage, I realised that the pork is baking well with its own juice and doesn't develop an outer reddish brown colour at all. So, I transfered my pork onto a fresh foil-lined tray and bake for another 10 mins at 200°C fan forced. When the char siew ideal colour has been achieved, remove it from the oven and let it cool. When cooled, slice the pork into very thin slices. Serve with cooked noodles or rice.
Note: I have also made an extra half amount of this marinade. I reduced the sauce with low heat until thick and syrupy and used it to serve with the thinly cut char siew and noodles.
Please support me and like me at Facebook...