Homemade Char Siu – The Project

We’ve been eating a lot of fried rice, noodle soups and hearty salads lately , which means we’re going through a ton of Char Siu, or Chinese BBQ Pork. Now, it isn’t the most expensive meat product in the world, but the price at the local grocery is at least three times the price of the cut of meat being used, so I wanted to try to make my own. I wanted something that I could make in batches, freeze – either raw in marinade or pre-cooked – and use over a month or two.

After a few minutes of searching, I found a number of different recipes, but not a lot of consensus on the ingredients. Plus, a few of them required specality items  - things like Zedoary – that I was unlikely to have a lot of additional uses for, and I can’t go filling up the pantry & fridge with every last thing that catches my eye.  I wanted something relatively straightforward with ingredients I had a shot at re-using.

There were, however, a couple of common threads in the recipes, with the main being hoisin sauce. This reminded me of a recipe for Hoisin-Marinated Pork Chops I had made out of a Bon Appetit several years ago, which reminded me at the time very much of Char Siu in pork-chop form. Since I already had an idea of the taste I would get, I’d use that as my starting point, but with a couple of key changes:

  • Honey seemed to be another common theme, so this would be added
  • The ratio of marinade to meat was much higher for the pork chops; rather than try to reduce the recipe, I’d just use more meat
  • The original recipe called for 3 days of marination, while the Char Siu recipes recommended about 1 day (or as little as 8 hours, in one case). Since I was going to have extra meat, I’m planning on cooking a batch after 1, 2 & 3 days of marination, to see if the longer time makes a meaningful difference

Next step: the recipe!

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