“Plan for what it is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has been one of my favorite books for a little over 10 years now. It is such a down-to-earth book that always provide relevant aphorisms to illustrate the processes behind decision-making and planning and in this case cooking. What an amazing man…
The point of this little digression was simply to draw your attention on the planning aspect of this recipe. It’s definitely something you want to plan in advance: while it’s really not a difficult recipe, it is long both in preparation – even if it’s somehow a passive preparation – and in cooking. Since the recipe is so long I find it best to cook big batches of it and freeze them. I will take the meat out and slice or dice it, let it cool and freeze in a plastic bag. Char Siu is a great freezer friendly staple to have around. You can grab it last minute and throw it in a fried rice, wok dishes, noodles or just plain rice. The sauce from the marinade is also great as a base for building asian-type flavors.
For the little story both my little brother and the Guy home call this the “Magical Meat”… They do have some weird way of naming the stuff I cook but it says a lot of how much they like this particular version of char siu. Well, it’s true that this meat packs so much flavors, that you could have really bland food with it, it would still be flavorful and delicious – especially with plain white rice.
You will need
- 1kg pork
- 1 fat piece of ginger
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 star anise or 1tsp 4 spices or 1tsp graines a roussir mix
- 1/2 tsp chili – optional
- soy sauce
What should you do
- The day before cut the pork into medium chunks and trim any big lumps of fat before putting it in a plastic bag or a plastic container.
- Add the crushed garlic, chopped ginger, anise and optional chili.
- Cover with soy sauce. Use a smallish container so you don’t waste soy sauce and if the meat is not totally covered, turn the meat after a few hours.
- Leave in the fridge for at leat 12 hours and up to 24.
- Empty the marinated meat in a baking tray. Pour in the marinade so the meat is sitting in about 1 centimeter of liquid. If you don’t have enough liquid, add some water.
- Sprinkle a little sugar over the pork.
- Bake at 140°C or about 285°F for 2 – 2 and half hours turning the meat every 30 minutes. To have a more caramelizied and sweeter taste, sprinkle additional sugar.
- By the time the meat is cooked, you will have dark, tender meat and some syrupy cooking sauce. Don’t throw the sauce! Strain it to remove any piece of ginger or garlic, put it in the fridge overnight to defat it, then freeze. A teaspoon of this sauce is amazing as a base for chinese style noodles or fried rice.
Char Siu is quite salty and best eaten with bland food such as rice or in dishes where you control the amount of salt you add.
A good cut for the recipe could be pork sirloin. It should have some fat as fat carries flavors and will increase tenderness.