Auntie Ruby's Char Siew (Char Siu) Recipe - A Pictorial

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I am writing up another post on my Mum's Char Siew recipe. I made it again today and followed her recipe closely. I have written a few posts on Char Siew making from your home kitchen.

It is good, no doubt. Not just good, I think it is great. And it is simple to make as well.

I started with 1 kg of pork belly in 3 strips. With skin off, it weighed 900g. I did not have time to marinate, not that it mattered.

Here is the simple recipe again:

Marinate/Sauce

1 teaspoon - salt
1 teaspoon - sesame oil
1 teaspoon - dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon - white pepper
2 tablespoon - honey
2 tablespoon - sugar
2 tablespoon - Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon - Chinese wine or liquor
1 tsp: 5-spice powder
1tsp soda bicarbonate (optional)

To cook add:
2 tablespoon - oil
1 soup bowl of water

Method
  1. Add oil to heated wok.
  2. Add pork and after 5 minutes, add all ingredients into the wok and simmer for 40 minutes or till the pork is tender enough.
  3. Remove most of the sauce.
  4. Caramelise the meat in medium heat. 
  5. After the Char Siew is done, glaze with some honey
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At 3.44 pm: In goes the pork, oil and sauce. Simmer in low fire. Watch the water level and adjust if you need to.


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At 4:49 (after about an hour), the sauce has turned syrupy. By now, the meat is done. As I have cooked this many times, I can judge just by the 'bounce' of the meat. If you are not sure, cut off a piece and taste. If your strips are cut thinner (e.g. 4 strips for a kilo of pork), 40-45 minutes should do the job. Note: Don't overcook the meat if you like your Char Siew to have a nice bite, look smooth when cut i.e. fats not wrinkled up and meat coming loose.


Pour out the sauce into another bowl. See the sauce below. As I am using pork belly, there is a layer fat at the top.


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4:52 - Now we enter the searing phase. As there is just a bit of oil and sauce left in the wok, the heat contact with the meat will increase as the sauce dries up. Mallard reactions normally happen at over 150C.  As you can see in the photo below, the fire is at medium. You don't need to smoke your kitchen! Turn the meat around and within 5 minutes, it should be be nicely charred in parts.


4:57pm - The meat is nicely charred.

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What about the wok? As you can se in the pic below, it is not a disaster. I prefer to use a carbonised steeel wok as the surface can withstand rough treatment. Just add some water, reheat the wok and scrape with your "wok chan."It will be clean and ready for another lot of CS.


There you go, 3 beautiful strips of Auntie Ruby Char Siew. I did not add any red colouring powder.



What did I eat this batch of Char Siew with? That will be the next post.

Can you improve or alter this recipe? Of course you can. Use rose wine if you like. Or Hoi Sin Sauce instead of oyster sauce (will be sweeter). And just in case you are wondering, I don't like the taste of Lee Kum Kee's Char Siu sauce. But I suggest you stick to my Mum's recipe first.

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53 comments

  1. Hello, I've used this recipe char siu, and for slow oven roasted ribs. Both methods have given us really good results. So I just wanted to say thanks for a great recipe. No doubt we will use it many times in the future.

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  2. Hello,the food canon. Read through every single post you had and all your recipes! Thank you for sharing them. These are really valuable recipes for Singaporean comfort food, which most people will keep it secret. Will be trying out your char siu recipe soon.
    You have any idea where to get the rose wine? I have searched many supermarkets, provision shops, but unable to locate them..

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  3. Jade - the last time I bought one, I got it from Sheng Shiong

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  4. I've been wanting to this since I first read it here awhile ago. Finally got to make it today, and I must say it's really good. No quarters given to those offered in HK style restaurant.

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  5. Hi Terry, can I use a non-stick wok to do the charring? This way don't have to scrub:D

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  6. Non-stick wok will not be good after charring as the surface is more easily damaged when cleaning and removing burnt crusts stuck to the work

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  7. Hi Terry, I tried out the CS using your recipe, but grilled it for a couple of mins in hot oven and it came out nicely charred in some parts. It was a big hit with family and friends! Thanks so much, this is a keeper for sure.

    I used pork neck, and this cut is now my current fave cut of pork, due to reasonable price and also that there is some fat to the meat which makes it that much more tasty. I also used pork neck sliced thinly to make satay and it was so good too!

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  8. HI Flo, most welcome. Will try pork neck for satay next time :)

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  9. THanks Terry, I shall try it with wok then.

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  10. Hi Food Canon,

    Am wondering if i need oil for the wok to further cook my marinaded meat?

    I already marinaded with almost all of your recipe including sesame oil. of course meat is still raw, using pork neck.

    Thanks.

    KH

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  11. I have not tried without some oil, and so, I am not sure. Logically, as it seems to me, the oil is not necessary.

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  12. So glad I found your blog. I'm from San Francisco but living in Manila now. One thing I missed was SF style Char Siew. While this is it's own thing, it taste so much more like what is available here unless I have to pay a premium. Which in my mind defeats the whole joy of eating great cheap Chinese eats. So easy and definitely a repeat to be experimented with. A local favorite noodle dish here is Pancit Canton - or Cantonese Style noodles (of course the only folks who make this Filipinos and Chinese Filipinos... ) my version got 10X better with the addition of Aunt Ruby's Magic. I can't wait to try out some of her Hakka recipes - my favorite kind of Chinese food.

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  13. Compliment to Aunty Ruby.
    Tried so many recipe, this is the best!
    No marination needed and yet flavourful.
    My wife simply love the charsiew ^^

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151915731628602&l=5ef63ee05d

    Thanks Food Canon.

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  14. Dear Hackson - Thanks for letting me know and glad it worked for you.

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  15. hi just a quick question, if i were to marinate it do i have to make extra marinate sauce for when i fry the pork belly ? or just fry the already marinated meat and add water?

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  16. Hi Zain - the latter- add water to the marinate and cook the meat in it

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  17. I tried Aunty Ruby, the result was very good. Love it! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  18. A big problem a had when doing it is that I Simmer in low fire but after the meat is too Friable. Total time is too long? Can you help me to explain my problem, i tried doing that way many times. Thank you so much!

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  19. I Simmer in low fire for 40 minute but the meat is too Friable ????

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  20. Can you help me to show the picture of flame when simmering? Thanks

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  21. Hi Hanh Annie - what is "friable"? Can email me a photo of your char Siew?

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  22. Thank you so much for your reply. I'm gonna send to this Email:terrywg@gmail.com. Is that right?
    "Friable" I mean that when i simmer the meat too long, it'll become too soft.

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  23. Hi - I do not have a non-stick wok - would it be possible to use a tanyu clay pot?

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  24. normal wok will work. Tanyu clay pot won't work well as it won't sear the meat

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  25. Hi Terry, I am going to try out your Mom's recipe but could I find out from you how much is the 2 bowls of water? As the bowl size does vary could you let me know the amount in "ml" please? Thanks!

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  26. hi! i found your recipe via another blog, it looks great. did you remove the skin off all together? will a skinnier cut of pork work? thanks!

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  27. Yes, remove skin. Skinnier pork will work too

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  28. Dear Padre, I have made this recipe for Char Siew quite a few times already. Sometimes, I'm lazy and I'll switch the cooking to the oven. Still, each time I've had perfectly delicious, succulent Char Siew. So thank you. Thank you to your mum and you for sharing this recipe. I've got so spoilt by eating homemade Wan Tan Mee it's not funny!

    I wish you and your family a Happy Christmas and a blessed New Year. May He grant us all joy, peace and happiness in the years to come!.

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  29. Ann - Glad it worked for you. Blessed Cmas to you too!

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  30. Hi Aunty Ruby, can I grill this in oven instead? TIA

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  31. Her voice thundered from heaven: "Yes, you may!"

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  32. Hello! Made some CS with belly and shoulder today. ... love the sauce! However, meat had more bite/ tougher than I'd like... did I overcook it or should I simmer longer? Total weight of 1kg of meat, and 1 hour of simmering till syrupy. Thx for advice!

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  33. Just simmer longer, should be fine. Alternatively, add a tsp of soda bicarbonate into the sauce when u start cooking..it will help to cut down cooking time.

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  34. Hi. Thanks for the interesting recipe; I definitely will try the char siew recipe soon. I have a question pls; what is the purpose of using soda bicarbonate in the sauce ? Tks.

    Warmest Rgs, Sl

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  35. Success. What a great recipe. Thanks Terry (and Auntie Ruby).

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  36. Great Site, but you should enable it for Pinterest so more people can re-post your recipes.

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  37. Thanks for the feedback. I have added the Pininterest button. Hover over picture to see the button.

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  38. Susan Loh - My Mum added Soda Bicarbonate to tenderise the meat. It will cook faster. Optional of course.

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  39. Hi, I just did the CS and it was fantastic! Just to check with you, is the bicarbonate put in during the cooking stage or the marinating stage?

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  40. either is fine. If u r marinating overnight, best to skip the bicarbonate.

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  41. I just made the charsiu today. It was so good, like restaurant-styled. My family members complimented it was better than that. I appreciate particularly your mentioned of what type of wok to use. I used ss and yes, the cleaning was not that difficult. Thank you so much for the detailed and simple recipe. :-)

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  42. The recipe is wonderful ;). Char Siew is my favourite so being able to make it in the comfort of my own kitchen is fun great!

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  43. A great recipe! Thanks a bunch! For those people who are 'afraid' of e burnt pan/wok, use a solution of baking soda and vinegar with a tiny bit of water and let it soak. The burnt bits will come off with not too much of an effort. Cheers!

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  44. Hi! I'm trying this recipe today. A simple(silly) question: do I cover the wok while simmering?

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  45. Can I use a Le Creuet enamel Dutch oven on induction job for this ?

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  46. Jo - not too sure but you can try. After braising phase, you may need to pop into oven to sear the CS. Do let me know of the results.

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  47. What happens if I simmer it for too long? Does it get softer with less bite? Just wondering what's the worst case if I forget to turn off the heat. Also, will over-caramelizing the meat result in it being tough? I tried the recipe today with 1/2 the portion and simmered at 45 min but it turned out tougher than I would like.

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  48. My family and I love love the stove-top version of this recipe but would like to try it out using the oven. Should I marinate the meat first? Grill or bake? Will I get the same gravy outcome?

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    Replies
    1. Yes marinate first. Bake or grill is fine. Baste occasionally. Start Low and raise heat towards the end. Add the drippings to the leftover marinate and heat up, strain etc to get a good sauce

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  49. Hey Terry, thanks so so much for this recipe, and Aunt Ruby's Tau Yew Bak.
    I'm currently living in Japan, and though the local cuisine is delicious, there's not much in the way of local Singaporean homecooked food.
    Your recipes are honestly the closest thing I can get to home, and I really appreciate your efforts!

    Can't wait to get a copy of your cookbook :)

    -Natalie

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  50. Hi Pastor Terry, aunty ruby's char siew recipe rocks! Flame torching for extra 'char' is genius. Thanks for sharing - Sharon

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