Friday, October 5, 2018

Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)

This has been the craziest week of the school year so far. My small dog walking/sitting business has been quite busy, so in between client visits, taking care of the kids, and keeping house, there is relatively no down time. Paul has also been working like a dog at work. The other day he ran a test that lasted 18 hours and required constant vigilance from him so he spent the entire day and night at the lab. He then stumbled home around 6:00 AM, slept for two hours while I took the kids to school, and then headed back into work. Matthew has also been playing flag football for his school, but since Paul has been busy at work, I have had to do the majority of the shuffling which requires taking everyone to practice and back. And then there is homework - which I dread. Matthew's homework is supposed to only take him 20 minutes, but he whines and procrastinates so much that it turns into a couple hours worth of homework. And I have to hover over him to instruct, encourage, and - at times - threaten him until it all gets done. It's exhausting, exhausting, exhausting.

The busy days make me long for more relaxed ones. It seems like so long since we have had a proper vacation. I've been reminiscing about the few days a little over a year ago that Paul and I spent in New York City. I can't believe that was only a year ago. At that time, we never would have suspected that in just a few short months we would have another baby on the way, putting our home on the market, and preparing to move across the country. It's crazy, but it happened and here we are.

One of our favorite memories from New York is strolling through Chinatown and dining at a 100-year-old Dim Sum restaurant. My favorite dim sum is of course BBQ Pork Buns and I have always wanted to make my own but always imagined they would be a bit on the complicated side. When I spied a recipe for Char Siu - the filling for those marvelous BBQ Pork buns - I was surprised to find that it is a rather easy method of preparation. A bit of planning ahead is necessary as a lengthy marinading stage is required in addition to a couple hours in the oven, but the end result is a sweet, tender, addictive main dish that will satisfy any craving you might have for Char Siu. This was JUST as good as the Char Siu we ate in Chinatown. Everyone loved it - including all of the kids. Even the one who recently sprouted a mustache.

The best part of this recipe? It details how a portion of this pork can be set aside and prepared into a filling for pork buns. That is exactly what I did and I could not have been more thrilled with the results. That recipe is coming up next - so stay tuned!

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and make some Char Siu. Serve it up with some fried rice and roasted broccoli for a complete meal. And do reserve a bit to make pork buns.

Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)
from America's Test Kitchen

Note: I've also included directions below if you are planning to use a portion of the Char Siu to fill pineapple buns or bao. Not much extra work is required and only 12 ounces of the pork is required to make a generous bunch of pork buns! My next post will feature that recipe!)

4 pounds boneless pork butt (also called pork shoulder or Boston butt)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup Shaoxing Chinese rice wine
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon red food coloring (for that traditional deep red color; I omitted)
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon pink curing salt #1 (I got it from a local spice store but it is also available on Amazon)
3/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons cornstarch (if filling Pineapple Buns)

Cut pork into 4 pieces and butterfly to create 3/4-inch-thick pieces. Divide pork between 2 one-gallon zipper-lock bags.  Whisk soy sauce, sugar, hoisin, Shaoxing, ginger, sesame oil, garlic, food coloring, five-spice powder, and pepper together in large bowl.  Measure out 1 cup marinade and set aside.  Whisk pink curing salt into remaining marinade; divide equally between bags and rub to distribute evenly over pork.  Press out as much air as possible from bags and seal; refrigerate pork for at least 10 hours or up to 16 hours.

While pork marinates, whisk honey and reserved marinade together in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until glaze is reduced to 1 cup, 4 to 6 minutes.  (Glaze can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

If filling Pineapple Buns: Reserve 2 tablespoons glaze and set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees F/121 degrees C.  ine rimmed bakin gsheet with aluminum foil and set wire rack in sheet.  Spray rack with vegetable oil spray.

Remove pork from marinade, letting excess drip off, and place on prepared rack.  Cover sheet tightly with aluminum foil, crimping edges to seal.  Bake until pork registers 195 degrees F/90.5 degrees C, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Remove pork from oven and discard foil.  Let pork rest on rack for 30 minutes.

If filling Pineapple Buns:  Pour pan juices into fat separator and let settle for 5 minutes.  Pour off and reserve 3/4 cup defatted juices; discard remaining juices.

Heat broiler.  Brush both sides of pork with half of remaining glaze; broil until top is mahogany, 2 to 6 minutes.  Flip pork and broil until second side is mahogany, 2 to 6 minutes.  Brush both sides with remaining glaze and continue to broil until top is dark mahogany and lightly charred, 2 to 6 minutes longer (second side does not get broiled again).  Transfer pork to carving board, charred side up, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips and serve.

If filling Pineapple Buns or Baked Char Siu Bao:  Combine reserved defatted juices with reserved 2 tablespoons glaze in small saucepan and whisk in cornstarch.  Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and cook until mixture is thickened and glossy, about 1 minute.  Transfer to bowl with 12 ounces chopped pork and toss to combine; set aside until ready to use.  (Pork filling yields 1 1/4 pounds and can be refrigerated for up to 7 days.)

No comments:

Post a Comment