This Cantonese Style BBQ Pork over Rice (Char Siu with Rice 叉燒飯) is one of the most popular dishes in Hong Kong. The pork is juicy and tender with a little sweetness, then top over a hot steamed rice with a savory soy sauce. It’s a perfect meal for any day!
Hong Kong is famous for their Cantonese roasted meat (Siu Mei 燒味). BBQ pork, roasted goose, roasted duck, roasted pig, roasted suckling pig, soy sauce chicken and a few more. These are all classic. People like buying these roasted meats to-go, either eating as main dish with rice or as a side dish for dinner.
When we visited Hong Kong in February, we had a plate of BBQ pork over rice. It was really delicious and perfect. It also reminded me of my high school days. Whenever there was a school vacation day, I would be home alone. Lunch was something I really looked forward to, because I could eat whatever I wanted. One of the things I liked to eat was BBQ pork over rice. The restaurant near my home made pretty good BBQ pork. They sold a BBQ pork combo, which included a handful of BBQ pork, steamed rice, 2 pieces of choy sum (vegetable) and a can of soda. It was very simple, but comforting.
Back in the States, Bryan tells me that he misses the BBQ pork every other day. I started to crave for BBQ pork too. Since it is not easy to get BBQ pork in where I live, I know I have to try making some myself.
To make BBQ pork, there are a few special ingredients that you will need. First, it is a piece of pork with a good balance ratio of fat and lean meat. Pork butt (梅頭) is the best choice. Don’t worry! Pork butt is not the meat from the butt. It is actually meat from upper part of the shoulder from a front leg. In the US, people like to use this cut of meat to make pulled pork. You can get this in butcher department in most supermarkets. Then, there is maltose. Maltose is a type of sugar. It is like a very-thick syrup that can hold its shape for a bit. Next, it is Hoisin sauce. Hoisin sauce is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It is sweet and savory. It is made with soy, red chiles, garlic, vinegar and sugar. The last thing is Chinese rose wine. It is fragrant and strong. All maltose, hoisin sauce and rose wine can be bought from Chinese supermarkets or some Asian supermarkets.
It looks like making BBQ pork is troublesome, but I promise it is totally worth it. The pork was juicy and tender. It was slightly charred and sweet. With the sweet and savory soy sauce and hot steamed rice, the meal was just what we wanted. I have already made this twice in 3 weeks. Hope you will enjoy this classic Hong Kong dish too! Just remember the pork needs to be marinated 24 hours ahead.
Cantonese Style BBQ Pork over Rice (Char Siu with Rice)
- 1 pound pork butt
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 cups hot cooked rice
- 3 tablespoons maltose
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3/4 tablespoon Chinese rose wine
- 6 dashes ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 6 drops red food coloring (optional)
Sweet Soy Sauce:
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup water
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 pieces sliced ginger (peeled and smashed) (optional)
- 1 green onion (cut into 1-inch long) (optional)
- 1 clove garlic (peeled and smashed) (optional)
- 1 small shallot (cut into 3 pieces)(optional)
- In a small saucepan, combine all BBQ sauce ingredients. Heat over medium-low heat. Stir and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour about 1/3 cup to a small bowl and keep the rest in the saucepan. Set aside both to cool slightly.
- In the meantime, work on the pork, trim off some the fat if needed, but don’t trim it all. Cut the pork into 4 – 5 (¾-inch thick) strips. Place them in the deep-dish plate or glass container. Add the garlic and then pour in the BBQ sauce from the saucepan. Rub all sides of the pork strips with the marinade and garlic. Best to place them flat in a single layer. Cover the plate with double layers of plastic wraps (so the smell doesn't get out to the fridge too much) and marinate for 24 hours.
- For the BBQ sauce in the bowl, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon honey. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.
- 24 hours later, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then top with a rack. If you don't have a rack, just it do on the baking sheet.
- For the sweet soy sauce, in a small bowl, combine soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and water.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the pan and add the vegetable oil. Add the ginger, green onion, garlic, and shallot if using. Cook until slightly browned. Turn the heat to medium. Add the soy sauce mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Remove the ginger, green onion, garlic and shallot. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Turn off the heat.
- Back to the pork, wipe off most of the sauce and garlic with your hands. Place the pork on the prepared baking sheet. Baked in the oven for 5 minutes. Brush the pork with a layer of BBQ sauce (the one in the fridge). Continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Brush the pork once more with the BBQ sauce. Turn the heat up to 425˚F (220˚C) and cook for another 12 – 18 minutes or until the pork is cooked through and a little charred on some edges. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and rest for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the hot rice on 2 servings plates. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce over each plate of rice.
- Slice the pork into ¼ – ½-inch thick. Place over rice and serve immediately. Transfer the leftover sweet soy sauce to a small bowl and serve along with the dish.
- Pork butt is not the actual butt, it’s the shoulder. When choosing the cut, get something that is a little fatty. Lean pork can result in dry and tough meat. Since pork butt usually comes in 2 – 3 pounds. Cut it in half or third. Use 1 part and freeze the rest for next time. Or you can double the amount of sauce and make them all at once.
- Maltose is super thick, it may not be able to scoop or pour. To take maltose out of the jar, I used a pair of wood chopsticks (a metal spoon should work too). Keep both chopsticks together and stab into the maltose. Scoop and pull up high. The maltose can stand on its own at this point. Roll and collect. Roughly measure about 3 tablespoons of maltose. Place the maltose along with the chopsticks in the small saucepan. During the heating process, the maltose will melt and the chopsticks can be removed at that point.
- Maltose, Chinese five spice, Chinese rose wine and hoisin sauce can all be found in Chinese supermarkets.
- For the sweet soy sauce, the ginger, green onion, garlic and shallot give the sauce more flavor and fragrant. It’s not necessary, but I highly recommend it. Using 1 or 2 items is better not using at all.
- When I have to brush the pork with BBQ sauce, I take out the baking sheet and do it on top of the stove. That way, I’m not keeping the oven door opened and not dropping the oven temperature too much.
- When the pork is cooking, sauce dripped down to the bottom could start to char and burn a little. It’s ok. You do want a little charred on some edges on the pork for better flavors.
- If you are not sure if you pork is cooked through or not. You can take one out and cut in the middle to see if the pork is pink or not. If there is a tiny bit of pink, it’s safe to eat.