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Char Siew 叉烧

17 Nov

Char Siew with rice and pan fried asparagus

One of my favorite childhood dishes is 叉烧 with rice.  The hawkers would hang the pieces of 叉烧 on hooks with a spotlight above it to make it look delicious and enticing.  The piece of meat would be colored bright red with bits of charred meat at the uneven edges, glistening in fat and oil.

I defrosted some pork neck instead of soft bone by mistake and decided to make 叉烧 for dinner.  Google brought up a number of recipes but they all needed the use of hoisin sauce which I didn’t have and wasn’t keen on buying.  So I decided to come up with my own.  It was delicious with soft fluffy rice and pan fried asparagus on the side.

Char Siew 叉烧


0.5kg pork shoulder

1 ½ tbs kecap manis

1 ½ tbs light soy sauce (low salt)

2 ½ tbs honey

1 ½ tbs oyster sauce (low salt)

2 tbs Shao Hsing wine

½ tsp five spice powder


  1. Place all other ingredients besides the pork in a bowl and mix completely to make a marinade
  2. Cut up pork into 1 inch strips.
  3. Place marinade and pork strips into a resealable bag.  Massage the pieces of meat to allow for the marinade to coat the meat well and penetrate the layers.
  4. Place the bag in the fridge overnight, massaging a few times.
  5. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees celsius.
  6. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper to catch the drippings.
  7. Place the pieces of pork on a roasting rack and place onto the roasting pan.
  8. Bake at 230 degrees celsius for 30 minutes.
  9. Baste the pork with the remaining marinade once or twice during the baking duration and turn the meat over to allow for even caramelisation.


  1. Slice against the grain of the meat for more tender pieces
  2. Pork with a significant amount of fat make for tastier pieces as the fat absorbs the marinade well and keeps the meat moist and tender.
  3. Parchment paper is not a must but it makes cleaning up a lot easier.
  4. A bit of charring is part of a good piece of char siew as it means that adequate caramelisation has occurred.
  5. You can add red food coloring for the authentic red look.  But I try to keep my food as healthy as possible as far as additives are concerned.  And you can see that the meat turned out a nice reddish brown anyway.

Siew Yok 烧肉

11 Nov

It’s funny how it takes a stay out of Singapore to make me get off my butt to actually cook stuff like 烧肉.  Back home, one of the aunts does a mean 烧肉 and I was under the impression it was quite a feat to do so.  The blogs all around didn’t make it sound too easy either – there was either a secret method that wasn’t revealed or the techniques sounded a tad dodgy to say the least.  But I was missing it much and with an appreciative (or non picky) “audience”  I figured that there would be no harm in trying.  Afterall, Chubby Hubby’s recipes have never failed me yet!

The whole process was not difficult.  Just tedious!  Lots of actions and it sure doesn’t fit my”1 pot dish” style of cooking!  But the result was out of this world!  I tried out the recipe on the “spare pieces” of pork that the hubby got on clearance from the market.  No point spoiling an entirely good chunk of meat on a recipe that doesn’t work, right?  The result was a tad too salty for my liking.  I didn’t do the crackling as the pieces of pork were probably what they used to make bacon rashers and were cut impossibly thin so I couldn’t stand them up.

Today was the best day to give it a shot: 1. I remembered to take the pork out of the freezer 24hours before.  2.  I had space in the tiny fridge to store the pork overnight to dry.  3. I had enough time to marinate and leave the marinate to settle in. 4. I could do it when the kid was asleep.

I was chicken and tried with only a 0.5kg piece of pork.  No point having to force yourself to eat 1kg of ruined pork or having to throw it away.

Siew Yok 烧肉

Adapted from Chubby Hubby



1 clove of garlic minced

1 tbs salt

1 tbs sugar

1 big cube of nam yee

1/2 tbs five spice powder

1 tbs rice wine vinegar


  1. Wash the piece of pork and remove the hairs with a pair of tweezers.  I prepared my meat at night so I thought there were no hairs.  Lesson learnt – I need to get better lights.  I only found out the next day when I had to marinate.  At least I found out.
  2. Using a needle, poke many, many holes in the skin.  I thought I had some needles around but I didn’t and ended up using satay sticks.  It worked.
  3. Boil 1L of water and prepare a large bowl of ice cold water while that is boiling.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the skin side of the pork to blanch it.  Follow this with the ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
  5. Dry the pork with paper towels and pop it into the fridge to dry further.
  6. Prepare the marinate by mixing all the other ingredients together (except the vinegar) and rub it into the meat part of the pork, avoiding the skin and pop it back into the fridge overnight.  Being a bit pressed for time and the piece being a tad small, I didn’t bother with scoring the meat or rubbing it in.  But I think I may just do those in the future coz the inner layers of meat while tasty may be even better if I did that.  Remember to keep the skin dry!
  7. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  8. Fill a roasting pan with water to about 1/3 and place a rack above it.  The pork goes on the top.
  9. Bake the pork for 20 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius and then turn down to 180  degrees Celsius and bake for another 40 minutes.
  10. Take the pork out and brush the skin with the vinegar and pop it back into the oven at 250 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.  At this point, I was a smart alec and I turned on the grill.  That resulted in the pork charring a lot faster.  But the skin was so CRISP!
  11. Scrape off the charred parts with a serrated knife and chop the meat immediately.