Sunday, 26 June 2011

Char Siew - Chinese BBQ pork

I miss home. I miss being able to roam out for dinner, scouring the food court for good cheap fare. If there's anything my stay here has taught me however, it's that a lot of the food that I and many others miss can be replicated to varying degrees of success. One which I have not seen done too often though is char siew - Chinese BBQ pork. Typically, the meat is marinated in a sweet sauce made of various ingredients, including honey, hoisin sauce and rice wine, amongst others, before being roasted, all the while being basted with the same sweet sauce. The process is pretty involved, which given the timetable constraints faced by most university students, might explain why I never saw my friends try this at home.

Curiosity got the better of me however, and when I came across the Sainsbury's Basics Pork Shoulder Joint, I knew I had to try it, somehow. If anything, I guess to the British readers who form the majority of my reading audience it might be an interesting variation on the traditional pork roast.

In coming up with a recipe for char siew I made use of two references. The recipe itself was by and large taken with slight modifications given what I had to hand in my kitchen from Jacqui Tezyk's Recipe Quest, a forum where recipes are shared between members. I used this as it featured marmalade, which piqued my curiosity; perhaps the author is also based away from home and had to improvise. The cooking technique from Rasa Malaysia was used as it appeared to be more suitable for cooking large joints of meat similar to what I bought.

Combine the following for 1.4kg of meat:
  • 2 tablespoons marmalade
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons light soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoon dark soya sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Soak the meat in the marinade overnight, draining all fluid from the pork before putting into the bowl. If you made a mistake like me and had the fluid in the bowl, set it up as follows, damming the marinade up, assuming the bowl is that small.

The following day, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Shake off excess marinade from the pork before transferring to a roasting pan.

To calculate the amount of time needed for roasting, for every 500g of pork, add 45 minutes, and on top of all that add an additional 20 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature of the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Reduce the excess marinade that you may have, and one hour before the roast is due to be done, take out of the oven and coat with the reduction.

It's a pity that I burnt the skin of the pork, as it would probably have been one of the tastiest parts of the joint. I'm supposed to bring this for my bible study group session on Tuesday evening, but I have had a taste of the reduced marinade and have found it to be close enough to the taste of char siew that I'm familiar with. Not sure how much the marmalade actually contributed though.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Medium-cut Marmalade£0.30454g+£0.61Choice of cut, higher fruit content
Boneless Pork Shoulder£2.99/kgby weight+£2.00/kgNot known, better pork quality?

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