Published March 1, 2007.
These lacquered strips of pork look exotic, but the meat is actually "barbecued" in the oven, making it an ideal candidate for home cooking—in theory, at least.
Traditional recipes for Chinese barbecued pork, or char siu, call for cutting the meat into thin strips that are then hung on metal rods inside refrigerator-sized ovens. Our attempts to replicate this process in the test kitchen were remarkably unsuccessful, even resulting in second-degree burns as the test cook tried to rescue dangling pieces of meat as they fell to the oven floor.
We wanted to develop a cooking method suited to a home oven.
We started by slicing a boneless pork butt into strips. Our marinade of soy sauce, sherry, hoisin sauce, five-spice powder, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic introduced traditional Asian flavors, especially after we pricked the meat with a fork to enhance penetration. For optimal browning and intense flavor we needed a two-heat process—initially cooking the meat, covered, at a low temperature to render fat and then cranking up the heat to develop a burnished crust. The classic lacquered appearance was achieved by applying a ketchup/honey glaze right before broiling, which also gave the meat its traditional red color (red foods are seen as bringing good fortune in Chinese cuisine).list of recipes