Tuesday, 9 July 2013

BBQ Cooking - Week 5: Chinese BBQ pork!

I have been waiting for this week's class since the beginning of the course, and finally, I got to learn how to make Cha Shao (Mandarin), or Char Siu (Cantonese), or you may know it as the Chinese BBQ pork-the China town style! At first I was pretty sceptical about learning how to make a traditional Chinese dish from my Canadian chef. It would be like learning pop culture from your parents. But then I had to bite my tongue really hard after I tried his cha shao, which is the most amazing cha shao that I've ever had in my 20 some-odd years of existence! The key to success lies in the marinade. I have tried to replicate the marinade at home, compared to the chef's gold standard, and I can say this with confidence: if you follow the recipe below, you will get the BEST cha shao ever!

3 lb pork shoulder (or sometimes it's called the pork butt, same thing)

300 mL hoisin sauce
200 mL oyster sauce
100 mL honey
50 mL light soy  sauce
30 mL Chinese cooking wine/brandy
5 g ground cinnamon
5 g ground Sichuan peppercorn
5 g ground star anise
3 cloves of whole garlic
We hang the meat in this industrial oven in class, but you can also cook it in your own oven in a roasting pan. 

1. Mix everything together and marinade the pork overnight

2. Take a deep roasting pan with a rack in it. Add about 1 cm of water to the tray. Put the pork on top of the rack. (I don't have a baking rack, so I just rolled some aluminium foil into rods with a diameter of about 2 cm. I raised my pork above the water using the rods). The water in the pan will create some steam in your oven to tenderize the meat, as well as to collect the drippings from the marinade. The flavourful liquid will eventually become the sauce that you can serve with the meat and rice. 

3. Bake the meat at 300F for 1.5hr, basting the surface of the meat repeatedly every 15min or so. After 1.5 hr, increase the temperature to 450F and bake another 10 min. During the final high-temperature stage, the sugar coated on the pork surface will caramelize and give you a natural red colour (unlike the red food colouring used in many restaurants). 

4. Let the meat rest for a few minutes and slice thinly. 

If you ever try this recipe at home, let me know how it turns out. Really excited to hear about your experience with this recipe! 

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