Char Siu aka Chinese Barbecue Pork

Discussion in 'Pork' started by nwdave, May 24, 2011.

  1. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    This is a follow-on to Festers and DaveOmaks Char Siu experiences.  Dave expressed some concern about getting some smoke into the pork in a cold smoke manner, then proceeding.  Since my wife devours the store bought version, I figured I'd get this sorted out and see what it's like when the "expert" tastes it.

    I approached this from two different techniques, so to speak.  First was:


    As you can see in the picture one of the methods is to create a liquid and add pork (the package also said you could use pork butt, ribs and chicken).  For this, since they were on sale (2 for 1)  I used pork sirloin chops.

    The meat is in the bag, so to speak.


    Right off the bat, let me warn you:  WEAR GLOVES OF ONE FORM OR ANOTHER.  This is a very strong color.  Your pinkie will definitely be pink.

    The instructions also suggest that you can this stuff as a rub, so:


    Having a shaker cup with various size holes in the lid make it very easy to apply this stuff.

    Here's a side by side view of no rub and rubbed.  I prep the meat with EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) then a sprinkle of the rub, both sides of course.


    So, both the liquid and rubbed meats into the fridge for an overnight conversation with the milk.  The package says 4 hours or more with overnight better.

    Now we've advanced to this morning, everything unwrapped and hung in the GOSM for 1 hour of cold smoke (apple, two rows lit, AMNS of course)


    A word about the color.  I guess my camera has a thing for red.  It wasn't really that bright a red, but, it does look great.

    Ok, we're 1 hour in, just finishing the cold smoke portion. 

    Propane turned on, smoke continues, desired chamber temp of 225 to 230.

    The screen on the waterpan is just in case of, well, you insurance.


    The following is a Bear closeup.


    The above picture was taken 3 hours into the smoke session (both cold and hot).  Temp probe showed 143* in the center piece.  Well within the 4 hour limits.

    I went to the 4 hour mark.  IT was 158 or so.  YES, I know I could have stopped at 145 (I read that article too) but I'm trying to match the doneness of the commercial c**p my wife buys.

    OK, time for the money shots.  I kept the rub and wet meats separate.  First the wet:


    And the Bear shot


    My, my, is that smoke ring I see?

    Now the rub:


    Note the moisture.  There was absolutely no saucing done.  That's the rub interaction.  And now the Bear shot:


    There's that smoke ring again.

    OK, enough of the pictures. 


    1.  SWMBO says that this was far superior to the commercial items she USE to buy.  Specifically, not sweet which she  doesn't really like.  Looks like I've got a new continuing project to keep things calm around the ol' homestead.

    2.  Absolutely no salt taste.  If you have friends and family that are on no or low salt, this will be a great snacky for them.  The package also states NO MSG which is a concern for many (including my wife).

    3.  For whatever reason, (Eric knows, I'm sure) the rubbed pork has got more saucing action on the surface of the meat, as you saw in the pictures.  The wet didn't have as near as much, but then, it hung in the corner of the GOSM and that corner tends to run a tad hot. 

    4.  I'm hesitant to call this Char Siu, even though the flavor package calls it that.  I've never tasted real Char Siu so I have no comparison.  The stuff that the wife use to buy just calls it Chinese Barbecue pork (but it's not smoked).

    I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did.  I say that this was a definite success.

  2. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Any chance you have stumbled across a from-scratch recipe Dave? I don't mind buying seasoning packets but would rather use fresh ingredients if I can.
  3. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    No, just the package, so far.  HOWEVER, there is someone, who not too long ago was talking about Char Siu and said he finally got a decent recipe.  If you could twist JustPassingThru's arm, you might have some luck.

  4. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I will have to figure out a way to do just that. ;o)
  5. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great post Dave, You have given me some ideas!  [​IMG]

    Thanks for sharin'
  6. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    That NOH  is good stuff, the Portugese sausage blend rocks. [​IMG]
  7. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I will just email Gene and see where he is in the process. He has been down with an injury so hang on
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dave, Great tutorial. The rub looks more moist than the brine specimen. Is that the way it really is?

    My bride said the Char Siu I did was way better than store bought also.

    Now about the smoke. Tell us about SWMBO and her thoughts on the smoke. Different, better, not sure, do three more batches so I can decide? I'm about to pull out more backstrap and make another batch.
  9. fester

    fester Smoke Blower

    Wow great job!!!  What cut of pork did you use?
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  10. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Oh please, please anything, just don't twist my arm, I only have one good one left!

    Solar if you're interest I'd be glad to send you my recipe, however it's a little sweet, not a lot, just a little.

    Good job Dave, and if the little woman is happy everyone is happy! 

    You know, I bought one of those seasoning packets and it stayed in my fridge for years, I just couldn't bring myself to to try it,  you're a braver man than I.

  11. That looks great! [​IMG]  I'm thinking of doing this as an appetizer (smaller strips of pork on bamboo skewers). Which did you prefer Dry or wet [​IMG]  ?
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Excellent looking Char Siu!  [​IMG]
  13. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I would love to give your recipe a try Gene. [​IMG]
  14. shooter1

    shooter1 Smoking Fanatic

    Oh man I'm drooling Dave, excellent job! Gonna have to try this.
  15. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Would this be good if it was cooked in my Wok or do you think it needs the benefit of the BBQ to make it come out great? I am looking for new idea's to try in my Wok.
  16. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Uh, can't really say.  Sorry to say, I don't have the packages anymore but I do remember that the package directions actually were directed towards this being a product that was baked in an oven at 350 for 20 minutes-then flip for an additional 20 minutes.  Smoking was not mentioned on the package.  I was basically responding to DaveOmak's desire to cold smoke and then proceed to hot smoke.  He had some basic questions about the "method".  I do know that the meat, just out of the brine or rub rest period will impart lots of red to anything else, like rice or veggies.  The Noh package was $1.99 USD, it does 1 1/2 lbs of meat (pork or chicken).  This experiment cost me a total of 12-15$.  2 packages of Noh and about 4.2 lbs of pork sirloin chops (they were on sale[​IMG]).

    Me, if I were to try it in a Wok, I'd go for it.  Most of what we do on this site seems to be walking on the dark side.  You're either going to like it or not.  Will definitely add some color to the mix.

  17. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Me too, please.

  18. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I think the rub was more moist, in appearance anyway.  The meat in both batches was definitely moist.  I think you could easily stop at 145 and it would be just fine.  Now I'm thinking smoked kabobs, especially if you want to use this as a side dish at a family gathering.

    SWMBO's thoughts?  Definitely better.  Different in the way of less sweetness.  As far as she's concerned, this is a keeper.

    Personal observation:  Even though the list of ingredients includes salt, there was absolutely no salt taste in the final product.  This is either good or bad, depending on your tastes.

    Personally, I think I'll stay with the rub method mostly because it'll be less mess.  When I use rub for any project, not just this one, I generally wet the surface with some EVOO, apply the rub, wrap in saran wrap, into a baggie and into the fridge for overnight (if I have enough time).  Upon unwrapping, I always have plenty of moisture.

    Pork Sirloin Chops, sliced about 1" thick, which was perfect for this project.  My favorite local grocery store was doing a 2 for 1 sale.  I have great difficulty getting past such displays.  I wanted to keep the meat reasonably uniform in thickness.  Incidentally, this was my first time hanging meat to smoke.

    Personally, dry, only because it's less mess in the preparation.  Appetizers?  You betcha.  I'm thinking just square the cut, if it's 1" thick, then 1" sides.  However, I prefer not to handle the meat too much prior to putting into the smoker (or grilling for that matter).  I don't want to disturb the rub coating.  But kabobs are definitely quite doable.  Watch the cooking time vs doneness.  With smaller strips, these could easily go over 145 and get too dry.  My strips that I took to 160's were wider so I got away with some.  One strip was a 1 x 1 and got rather dry.

    Finally, this project is categorized as SUPER EASY.  Definitely well within the profile for a KISS project.

    And another first.  First time using the multiquote.  Hope this works now.

    Thank you for the kind remarks.

  19. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    I would like to try you recpie too.[​IMG]
  20. bubbaduz

    bubbaduz Newbie

    Lookin' awesome Dave...I might just have to swing by your place tonight to pick up an appetizer!

    By the way...My oldest wiener dog, broke into our little chicken coup that had my son's two baby chicks in it last night and killed them both.  I was contemplating having smoked Dachshund for Memorial day BBQ.

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