Char siu? Charred shoe no matter what my daughter says. The other day, I attempted making homemade roasted Chinese-style pork and she laughingly described its look as a "charred shoe." Given there were some blackened edges and the color was not your usual bright vermillion shade of red like the strips of pork hanging from Chinatown markets, but it was a bit tastier than what I can only imagine a burnt shoe would taste like. I didn't have hoisin sauce in the house- and here I go again- making it up as I go along and trying to concoct something similar, sweet and beany. To account for the lack of hoisin, I added dark molasses and a Thai bean sauce to see if that would do the trick. The final version has leanings towards traditional char siu, but is a bit different, in a good way, I think. We had our char siu with sticky rice and the next day in fried noodles. It's very versatile and would be good to have on hand every once in a while.
Makes about 4 servings with lots of leftovers
1 kg (about 2 pounds) pork shoulder, preferably with a layer of fat on top, sliced lengthwise in 5cm (about 2in) wide strips
3 garlic cloves, grated
4cm (1.5in) long ginger, grated
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons bean sauce ( I used Golden Mountain Thai bean sauce)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 teaspoons sansho or Sizhuan peppercorns
6 star anise
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons Chinese wine
3 dried red chili peppers
Combine all of the above ingredients except for pork in a bowl and mix well. Add the pork to the marinade and transfer all to a zippered plastic bag. Marinate overnight or up to two days in the refrigerator, turning the pork about twice a day so that all sides are well marinated.
Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Prepare a roasting pan with a rack high enough so that all sides of the pork will be exposed to the oven heat. Fill the roasting pan with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. This is to catch all the fat and juices and will be an easier clean up afterwards. Take the pork from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade and peppercorns sticking to the meat. Save the marinade for basting. Place the pork on the rack, spaced so that each strip is not touching each other. Roast for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170°C (325°F) and roast for about 50-60 minutes.
Meanwhile strain the marinade. Baste the pork on all sides every 15 minutes or so during the roasting process.
When done, slice thinly and serve with white rice or steamed buns. Leftovers make great sandwiches, fried rice or fried noodles.