Char Siu Pork is guaranteed to be a favorite meat-appetizer or main dish in your house after you try this recipe. I know this because I’ve been testing it for a while now and every time I serve it I get such rave reviews, making this my new most requested recipe. I took this as a last-minute appetizer to a “ladies only” get-together about a week ago and let’s just say publication of this recipe has been sorely anticipated by attendees from that fun night :). Try it and you’re going to find the same response and “yahoo!” because this is an easy one to make again and again.
The marinade is a powerhouse of flavor variety beginning with Chinese Five-Spice. This spice is easy to find in most grocery stores. Chinese Five-Spice typically features star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Sometimes fennel and peppercorns are in there as well. You could also make your own Chinese Five-Spice blend. I played around with the marinade ingredients and for the best variety of heat and sweet not to mention sticky-factor- a combination of ingredients like honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, olive and sesame oil plus a tiny bit of ketchup fit the bill. (I don’t add red food coloring because well, why add that when you don’t need it?)
For intensity and rustic flavor, I simmer a whole Serrano pepper in the marinade as well. If you love heat and want to add extra bite to the finished recipe, feel free to dice up the pepper and add half or all (with or without seeds) to the other marinade ingredients before simmering. The ingredients only take a few minutes to incorporate, then the hardest part of this recipe is done. After your marinade cools, refrigerate with the pork tenderloins for at least 24 but up to 48 hours. I’ve left it for up to 3 days and it’s fabulous, in fact after the pork marinades for a day you could freeze it for up to three months so it’s ready to go anytime.
Tenderloins cook to perfection in no time and this Char Siu Pork is done quickly, even with basting and end-of-cooking broiling time. Serve hot or room temperature with some classic Hot Chinese Mustard (recipe included). This Cucumber Sesame Salad also works great with the pork.
Final Notes: Some people don’t care for the hint of licorice that star anise is known for and the marinade will highlight this flavor UNTIL you begin cooking the pork. I promise that the finished product is perfectly tasty and the anise is muted to a just-right but familiar char siu flavor.
A meat thermometer (instant read is best) is essential for this recipe to avoid under or over-cooked tenderloin.
Finally, the tenderloins can be subsituted with a small pork butt or shoulder roast. After refrigeration, slow-roast in a low (325F) oven or on low in a slow cooker, adding half the reserved marinade at the beginning and the remainder during last hour, cooking meat until it easily pulls apart. Shred and serve over rice or on buns with sliced red onions for a delicious Asian pork sandwich.
- 1 tablespoon Chinese Five-Spice Blend
- 1½ tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oil (mild olive oil works well)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (may omit)
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or pink peppercorns or red pepper flakes
- 1 fresh Serrano pepper, left whole
- 2 1-pound pork tenderloins
- Hot Chinese mustard (recipe below)
- Sesame seeds for garnish, optional
- For the marinade, place all ingredients except pork in a medium saucepan and bring to simmer for about 2 minutes, letting Serrano pepper simmer in the liquid and kind of shrivel up. This will not add heat. If you want heat, dice up the Serrano before adding to liquid. Set marinade aside to cool.
- Once marinade is cooled to room temperature, place the pork and marinade in a resealable gallon-size plastic bag. Seal the bag, pushing out as much air as possible and massage to distribute the marinade all over the tenderloins. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days (24 to 48 hours is ideal).
- Remove pork from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Transfer the pork from plastic bag to baking sheet and then pour the marinade into a small bowl.
- Roast the pork for 25 minutes or until its internal temperature reaches 145 - 160F degrees, basting pork generously with reserved marinade every 10 minutes (This step creates the nice thick, tasty, glaze). After removing pork from the oven, switch the oven to broil. Broil pork until meat is charred and the glaze is caramelized, about 5 minutes.
- For a really nice, thick glaze, add about one tablespoon honey to whatever marinade is left just before turning oven to broil (you should still have about ¼ cup of marinade). Then dab more glaze on the pork just before placing in under the broiler. This step is optional but highly recommended.
- Allow pork to rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds over sliced pork and serve with hot chinese mustard (recipe to follow).
- Hot Chinese Mustard Recipe:
- In a small bowl, place about 2 tablespoons mustard powder or ground mustard seed. Add water until desired consistency is reached. This mustard is quite pungent (yum!) and if you want to tone down the heat, just add more water.