Deliciously tender and fatty roast pork is enhanced by a flavorful marinade of Asian flavors and a sweet and sticky honey glaze. Char Siu pork or Xá Xíu is a fan favorite in both Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. This savory and sweet roast pork recipe is sure to be one you’ll revisit over and over again!
If you’re a fan of authentic Chinese food then you’ve probably had Char Siu pork before. This savory, sweet, and sticky pork can either be barbequed or roasted and is often recognized by its distinct red color. In Chinese cuisine, it’s usually served in a steamed bun as chasiu bao (叉燒包), with rice as chasiu fan (叉燒飯), or over noodles as chasiu min (叉燒飯).
In Vietnam, this BBQ roast pork is known as Xá Xíu and is also served in many different ways. The most popular are having it alongside steamed white rice and pickled vegetables, as a topping for Vietnamese pork or seafood noodle soup known as Hủ Tiếu Mì, or – of course – as the main protein in Bánh Mì.
No matter how you choose to serve this BBQ roast pork or what you call it, done right, this sweet and savory pork recipe is sure to satisfy!
Why is Char Siu Pork red?
Historically, Char Siu pork is red because in Chinese culture the color is equated with good fortune.
There are a few different ways to get that distinct bright red hue you see from most Char Siu pork. The original way to achieve this color was to marinate the meat in water from soaking sappan chips, also known as East Indian Redwood. But because this obviously requires a lot of effort, the more common and easiest way of achieving the red color is to use food coloring.
However, the idea of using artificial food coloring isn’t appetizing to me so I’ll be skipping that in my recipe. Instead, you can try using red fermented tofu like I did for this Chinese roast pork recipe. It still has the lovely warm hue, but less saturated and more natural.
How to make Char Siu Pork
The key to getting the authentic Char Siu pork flavor is a marinade featuring five spice powder and fermented tofu. The five spice powder gives it a distinct Chinese flavor profile while the fermented tofu adds a slight tang that balances out the honey glaze and keeps the dish from being cloying. Don’t skip out on either of these ingredients as they are the foundation of your Char Siu pork’s flavor!
You can find both of these ingredients at most Asian groceries. I use red fermented tofu to get the red color for my Char Siu pork. But any fermented tofu available to you will work fine as well. The color is mostly for presentation purposes, so the flavor will come out the same.
When i make this Chinese roast pork recipe, I like to marinate it in a big batch of 6-8 lbs. After 24 hours of marinating, I freeze whatever I’m not going to cook right away. This way, we always have delicious Char Siu pork available as a topping or main dish!
Chinese Char Siu BBQ Pork Recipe | Xá Xíu BBQ Roast Pork
- 2 lbs. Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder (you want a cut with a little bit of fat)
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 3 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Five Spice Powder
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine
- 2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 3 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 1 cube Fermented Tofu and some of its liquid
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Water
- Add all of the ingredients to the Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder and rub the ingredients thoroughly over the pork.
- Marinate the meat for 24 hours!
- Take the meat out of the refrigerator approximately for 30 minutes so it has time to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Roast the pork for 25 minutes on one side.
- Turn the meat over and roast the other side for another 25 minutes.
- Mix Honey with Water and brush it all over the pork after it has roasted for 25 minutes each side. Set the oven to Broil and broil for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the meat over and brush the other side with the honey/water mixture and broil for 2-3 minutes.
- Once done, take the BBQ pork out of the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. It will be super juicy!