Char Siew (Chinese BBQ Pork)

So most of us are pretty well acquainted with this Chinese BBQ Pork aka Char Siew (or Cha Siu) that gained international popularity. It would frequently make an appearance with dim sum, but is also often paired with rice or noodles.

Every country seems to have a slightly different version of it, but the main ingredients would remain pretty similar; including a sweetener such as honey or sugar, as well as some soy sauce / hoisin etc.


Typically pork belly may be used for a fatter, more caramelized char siew. However, if you would like to lean on the healthier side, pork shoulder / butt would also result in a delightful treat! It would be great if you can find longer pieces, similar to the authentic char siew, but otherwise, shorter pieces work too!

You may also notice some recipes calling for Chinese fermented red bean curd, which will give you a signature red. However, if this is difficult to find, or if you don’t want to buy it just to use it for this one recipe, then you can substitute this with paprika as I have.


Char Siew

serves 3-4
  • 500g pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp 5-spice
  • 2 tsp paprika
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl
  2. Add the pork belly and marinate for at least 3 hours (or overnight) in the fridge
  3. Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Place the marinated pork belly on a grilling rack and set aside the marinade in a bowl. Under the grilling rack with the marinated pork belly, line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. This will help with the clean up later!
  4. As your pork belly is grilling, cook the marinade, stirring constantly until it thickens.
  5. After grilling the pork belly for 15 minutes, flip it on the other side, and brush with the thickened marinade. Grill for another 15 minutes
  6. At this point, you can decide if you want to further grill it to give its signature charred look. If so, flip it again, and brush it with the marinade, then grill for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Let the char siew rest for 5 minutes and slice. Brush with the remaining marinade for the last time and serve.


And there you go! It’s not difficult at all right? I had mine with white rice, roasted vegetables, topped with a beautiful onsen egg.

It’s really difficult to go wrong when you’re making char siew using the combination of all those sauces! I hope you enjoyed this recipe!



9 Comments Add yours

  1. kitchenriffs says:

    This looks wonderful! Love pork and this looks incredibly flavorful. Thanks!

  2. wow Homemade char siew!! Amazing! What kind of soya sauce did you use? Dark or light?

  3. Sammie says:

    Light would be good! πŸ™‚

  4. LetsCurry says:

    What a lovely way to flavour the pork belly with those raunchy sauces. I love Hoisin sauce for it’s depthful flavour. Your pictures are worth a thousand words.

  5. Hi Sammie, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog! I notice that your barbecue sauce is similar to a recipe I did for Gua Bao (steamed buns) except I slow-cooked the pork belly instead of grilling it. I can just taste the crispy flavors of your delicious recipe!

  6. Hi Sammie – this looks beautiful. Did you cut the pork shoulder into smaller pieces to marinate?

  7. Sammie says:

    Thank you David! Yes, I did! Although the more “authentic” char siew would have been made with a long thin strip of pork belly instead! Unfortunately pork shoulders aren’t usually found long and thin in size! πŸ™‚

  8. Karen says:

    I’ve pinned your recipe. What I like is that I have all the seasonings available in my pantry.

  9. chef mimi says:

    I love the paprika idea. I’ve never loved the thought of adding red dye to chinese recipes! And probably, because of that, I haven’t made this and some pork that’s used in dim sum for ages. Time for a change! Thanks.

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