Wander through Chinatown in London and many of the restaurants will have the classic shop windows displaying their glistening roast duck, roast pork and barbecue pork hanging up on large butchers hooks. There also tends to be one man behind the glass furiously chopping away at the meat with his large cleaver, serving the guests with plates combining one or more of the meats, with or without rice. This is a staple dish in Hong Kong and Singapore – Roast meat and Rice, served with the meat cooking juices and some fresh or pickled chilli, and sometimes sliced cucumber. It is a long way from the refined peking duck served at Chinese banquets, but it is utterly delicious as well as being cheap and filling.
Chinese Barbecue Pork, otherwise known as Char Siu Pork has always been a favourite of mine – from the tiny slivers garnishing Wonton Noodles in the hawker centres, to the sweet and unctuous filling of a Char Siu Bau, to simply served over rice with a few stir-fried greens on the side. The flavour varies from place to place, but the underlying sweetness and Anise flavour remains. My children love this, and Char Siu Bao is always top of the dim sum order! My mother often made her version of this, sometimes adapting it to suit a sheet of Pork Ribs, which needed very different cooking times to a single piece of meat.
Over the past year I have updated and adapted my mother’s recipe – It’s basically a very simple recipe, but I think the challenge of using the right cut of pork ( needs to be a little fatty) and cooking over a high heat, but gently. I also took out the traditional red food colouring as I personally don’t see that it is necessary – however, when she created it all those years ago, it was considered normal to see it slightly red. I also used shoulder steaks – they are not as fatty as a belly of pork, but more marbled than loin or fillet. You could use this on a whole shoulder and roast it slowly – uncovered. You would need more marinade and would also need to baste it regularly. You could also marinate this overnight which makes it ideal for a relatively quick midweek supper.
I cooked mine on a gas barbecue and served it with steamed brown rice and stir fried Spring greens with garlic… with the ubiquitous chopped red chilli and soy on the side!
Char Siu Pork
6 Pork Shoulder Steaks
100g Hoisin Sauce
2 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Rice Wine
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
2 Tbs Sesame Oil
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 star anise (crushed) or 1/2 tsp five spice powder
Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and then add the whole shoulder steaks. Mix well, then cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours – ideally overnight.
Pre-heat the BBQ until it is hot enough to sear the meat when you place it on the grill. Whilst one side is cooking, baste the meat gently ensuring that it doesn’t burn, but you do want slightly tinged edges. When the first side has cooked, turn the meat over and do the same – basting as you go along. When both sides are nicely browned with the classic slightly blackened edges, it is ready. If barbecuing you need to be careful not to let it catch and burn due to the high sugar content. Rest for a couple of minutes and then slice before serving.