The time-honored way of showing love in an Italian family is to offer food. Whether we're celebrating, mourning, happy, sad--if we're breathing, there's a table filled with great things to eat. Life's too short, so eat what you love and love what you eat.
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
Char Siu is a kind of Chinese roast meat. You've probably seen it or eaten it, remarking on its signature red outer coloring. It's very flavorful, a combination of sweet and salty with a hint of spice.
Because I try to be conscious of what I eat, particularly during the week, I decided to try to make char siu with a lean piece of pork, a pork tenderloin. While I knew I would be sacrificing some of the characteristic flavor--pork tenderloin has no fat--I wanted something to go with my cauliflower fried rice that had good flavor, but was low in fat and calories.
1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
1/8 cupgranulated white sugar
½teaspoonfive spice powder
1 teaspoonsesame oil
1/2 tablespoonShaoxing rice wine
1/2 tablespoonsoy sauce
1/8teaspoonred food coloring(optional)
2 clovesfinely minced garlic
Cut the pork into chunks about 3 inches thick.
Combine the sugar, salt, five spice powder, white pepper, sesame oil, wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, molasses, food coloring (if using), and garlic in a bowl to make the marinade (i.e. the BBQ sauce).
Reserve about 2 tablespoons of marinade and set it aside. Rub the pork with the rest of the marinade in a large bowl or baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours. Cover and store the reserved marinade in the fridge as well.
Preheat your oven to the highest setting (475-550 degrees F or 250-290 degrees C) with a rack positioned in the upper third of the oven.
Line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal rack on top. Using the metal rack keeps the pork off of the pan and allows it to roast more evenly, like it does in commercial ovens described above. Place the pork on the rack, leaving as much space as possible between pieces. Pour 1 ½ cups water into the pan below the rack. This prevents any drippings from burning or smoking.
Transfer the pork to your preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the pork. If the bottom of the pan is dry, add another cup of water. Turn the pan 180 degrees to ensure even roasting. Roast another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the reserved marinade with 1 tablespoon hot water. This will be the sauce you’ll use for basting the pork.
After 25 minutes of total roasting time, baste the pork, flip it, and baste the other side as well. Roast for a final 5 minutes.
By now, the pork has cooked for 30 minutes total. It should be cooked through and caramelized on top. If it’s not caramelized to your liking, you can turn the broiler on for a couple minutes to crisp the outside and add some color/flavor. Be sure not to walk away during this process, since the sweet char siu BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended.
Remove from the oven and baste with the last bit of reserved BBQ sauce. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing, and enjoy.
I marinated the pork tenderloin overnight. You might want to use a thermometer to make sure you don't overcook the pork; the times listed above worked perfectly with my oven. This fragrant version of char siu was very satisfying. The 5 spice powder combined with soy sauce and hoisin sauce gave the meat a rich flavor, the perfect contrast to my cauliflower fried rice . Of course I will make this again with a fattier version of pork roast, but I enjoyed every bite of my meal and combined the leftover cauliflower fried rice with leftover, cubed char siu for what will be a yummy lunch.