I am writing this column back home in the UK and summer has finally begun. When it stops raining and the sun makes a full appearance in the sky, people will flock to their local supermarket to buy a plethora of meat and veg to throw a great British barbecue. For a change, I wanted to try and replicate flavourful, Chinese BBQ food at home. My research showed that marinades are widely used to help create an even richer smokier flavour, and the condiment that makes the base of most of the sauces is hoisin. I decided to use this base sauce to make the well known classic which is admittedly my favourite Chinese BBQ dish, “Char Siu” pork. Here is the best recipe I created:
- 800g pork loin
- 5 tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 2 big garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)
- 2cm piece ginger (peeled and chopped into matchsticks)
- 1 star anise
- 4 tsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp. honey
- ½ tsp five spice powder
Make sure you do buy pork loin and not pork belly. Pork loin is also much cheaper in China too so win-win for you!
Mix all the ingredients, aside from the pork, in a bowl until the ingredients have combined to make a marinade. Place the whole pork loin in the bowl, smother and massage the mixture over the pork. Leave the pork in the bowl with the marinade, cover the bowl with cling film and put into the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. Preferably you should leave it overnight to ensure maximum flavour when cooked.
When you are ready to cook your pork, preheat an oven to 210 degrees. Remove it from the fridge and leave it to get to room temperature. Line a baking tray with some tin foil and place the pork on the tray. Poor the marinade over the pork and once the oven is heated, place into the oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 170 degrees, and cook for another hour, ensuring you turn the pork and baste with the marinade every 10-15 minutes. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then it is ready to serve.
Now I have to say, this was my favourite dish to cook by a mile. The meat was so succulent; it just melted in the mouth and had the intense, smoky flavour I would expect from Char Siu pork. It can easily serve 4-6 people and was a real crowd pleaser with all my friends and family back at home.
I do understand this recipe is flawed for most of you expats back in Nanjing…. Chinese kitchens don’t really have ovens… I do apologise if you don’t have one! I bought a mini one when I was there off Taobao and it was money well spent, so if you are a foodie like me, definitely invest in one.
Aside from the pork loin, what I have provided you with is an amazing marinade and sauce that can be used for pretty much anything. You can marinade and fry chicken wings with it; create Char Siu pork chops simply fried on the hob; give amazing depth of flavour to any meat or veggie stir fries and rice dishes.
Whilst, yes you may have to wait to try my Char Siu pork loin when you get back home, please don’t wait around to try out this amazing sauce on almost anything else at home in China.