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Cantonese Char Siu Pork

Barbecue pork is one of my favorite Chinese food sides to serve at a party. This homemade version is going to impress your guests!

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Cantonese Char Siu pork (barbecue pork) is one of my favorite snacks to serve at a party. It’s readily available at the grocery store and usually comes with packets of spicy mustard and sesame seeds. I’m taking the idea of beloved Chinese food favorites and making them all from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much adore my favorite take-out and restaurant orders, but my homemade versions are just so, so good! I’m excited to share with you this recipe for Cantonese Char Siu Pork.

What makes this pork so good is the tenderness of the meat and the marinade that stains and coats the outside of the pork with that distinct and slightly sticky rosy-pink shade of red. The marinade is made with brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin, and honey; these ingredients create that lightly sweet and sticky coating, my favorite part of this pork.

Chinese five spice and beetroot powder are essential to the flavor of this sauce-like marinade. Chinese five spice is commonly used in Chinese cooking; it’s a blend of star anise, Schezuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, and fennel seeds. Beetroot is made from dried beets ground into a powder. This gives the pork that beautiful pink hue that is so distinctive to the whole experience of Chinese barbeque pork.

I cut the pork shoulder into strips about 3” in length, and placed them into a plastic bag, then poured this delicious marinade over the pork. Ideally, this will sit in the refrigerator overnight or for a minimum of three hours. The longer, the better!

I pop the pork into the oven to roast, and the leftover marinade I’ve reserved to make a basting liquid. The reserved marinade goes into a saucepan with more honey to reduce and create that distinctive and deliciously luxurious slightly sweet glaze.

My Char Siu Pork is done! It needs a moment to rest before I slice each of the strips on a bias into bite-sized medallions of meat. I grab my chopsticks and pick up a beautiful slice of perfectly cooked and glazed barbeque pork, drop the slice into a bit of spicy mustard and sesame seeds, and pop it into my mouth. So good!

Cantonese Char Siu Pork is best enjoyed with Chinese Pan-Fried Dumplings, Szechuan Stir-Fried Green Beans, Nuo Mi Fan, and Homemade Fortune Cookies.

Yield(s): Serves 12+

10m prep time

50m cook time

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  • 3 lb pork shoulder, cut into 3” strips
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey, plus two tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon beetroot powder
  1. Whisk together the hoisin sauce, 1/4 cup honey, soy sauce, brown sugar, Chinese five spice powder, vegetable oil, and beetroot powder in a bowl until combined.
  2. Add pork shoulder strips to a gallon-sized freezer bag and pour over the marinade, then zip the bag and mix the pork around in the marinade.
  3. Let the pork marinade overnight, or at least 3 hours in the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 °F and prepare a foil-lined sheet tray with a wire rack over it.
  5. Remove pork from the marinade and place over prepared wire rack. Reserve extra marinade. Place the pork on the middle rack to cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Add reserved marinade to a pot and place over medium low heat with two tablespoons of honey. Cook sauce until it thickens to a more syrupy consistency.
  7. Remove pork from oven and baste pork with marinade, then continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  8. Remove and baste for a second time and finish in the oven for 15 minutes or until the surface get’s glossy and sticky. Let rest for 5 -7 minutes.
  9. Slice thinly on a bias and enjoy!