Char siu pork is a classic Cantonese dish. This is a modern riff on the dish. Instead of using pork belly or pork butt, this recipe calls for pork tenderloin. The sauce is a mix of soy sauce, Chinese five spice, garlic, and ginger.
This isn’t quite the traditional Chinese roasted pork recipe. It swaps the traditional indulgent pork butt or pork belly for learner pork tenderloin but tastes every iota as sweet and sticky and authentic as the real deal. See for yourself.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Char Siu Pork
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove very finely chopped
- One (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin silver skin removed
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons honey
Marinate the pork
- In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, five-spice powder, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Place the pork in large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over. Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours, flipping the bag occasionally to evenly coat the pork.
Prepare the oven and roast the pork
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on the sheet. Spray the rack with nonstick spray.
- Remove the pork from marinade, letting any excess drip off, and place it on the wire rack. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Roast until the internal temperature of the pork registers 135°F (57°C), 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the tenderloin.
Make the char siu sauce
- While the pork is roasting, transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and stir in the ketchup and honey. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. (It’s important to boil the marinade to kill any possible bacteria from the raw pork.)
Glaze and serve the pork
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Adjust the oven racks so that the top rack sits 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) from the broiler. Brush the pork with half the warm glaze; broil the pork until a deep mahogany color, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meat over, baste with the remaining glaze and broil until the other side caramelizes, 2 to 3 minutes more. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Slice thinly and serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This char siu pork recipe is a cinch…and an excellent choice for anyone on a tight cooking schedule. It would be equally appropriate for a weeknight family meal or a weekend dinner gathering and can be dressed up or down by the sides it is served with. (I’m picturing some beautiful green sugar snap peas dressed with sesame oil, shallots and some toasted seeds to glam this up for a Saturday night party.)
There is very little hands-on time and the pork can actually sit overnight in its marinade; the flavor shines through beautifully. If you need maximum outcome for minimum effort, this one’s for you. The cooking temperatures should be watched, depending upon how much of a light pink center you prefer and how thin the ends of your pork tenderloin might be.
As written, the recipe took the meat toward being over-cooked if you like a slight blush and tenderness in your slices. The Chinese Five-Spice powder was a bit difficult to locate in my two local grocery stores. I did finally find it in a third, smaller ‘gourmet’ grocery…but that might pose a challenge for some cooks depending on their local resources. Also, it might be fun to suggest 1 or 2 other uses for the spice in the recipe header (cookies?) since there will be some leftover in the spice cabinet after purchasing it and making this recipe.
I would describe the taste as mild and I think the point of the dish is to play up the exotic spicing. I marinated the pork overnight out of necessity, so it was in the marinade about 16 hours. (I don’t think the longer time affected the texture of the meat at all and I imagine it improved the flavor given the extra hours to absorb the marinade.)
This was certainly a winner in our house. The pork was very easy to prep – the marinade pretty much did all of the work. I loved that I did not have to brown the meat before roasting! My husband and sons loved the pork saying that it was very tender and flavorful. The remaining marinade that was reduced and basted on provided a sticky, yummy exterior. We used the leftover marinade to pour over the side dishes of rice and roasted broccoli.
We ADORED the flavors of the char siu pork in general. The marinade was so fragrant and just as the recipe describes, after you reduce the sauce with the ketchup and the honey, it becomes sticky, very similar to a well-made barbecue sauce…but better! I will definitely be making this recipe again.
I liked this char siu pork mainly because of the Asian influence. I expected it to be sweeter but I was actually glad it was not. The marinade was easy to prepare but I ran into difficulties while preparing it to use as a glaze. The liquid was very sticky, especially after the honey was introduced and had to be watched constantly once reduced to a simmer. There was no indication how long the concoction should be simmered. It seems overkill to simmer it for the whole 20 minutes it takes the pork to cook and reducing it too quickly will result in a sticky mess. However, the taste was excellent.
We loved the sweet, sticky, Asian flavors of this pork tenderloin recipe. Super simple to put together and the marinade really shone through in taste and tenderness of the meat. Cooking time needs adjusted though.
This produces a very nicely flavored pork tenderloin, which served sliced will be a dinner party worthy dish. It departs from traditional char siu in the lean aspect, but worked fine – and overall, would have worked better if I had let the pork come back to room temperature before cooking. If you take it straight from the fridge to the oven your cooking time could double. Normally I would use leftover char siu in a fried rice, and this will definitely be an upscale and lean version. The marinade reduces to a beautifully sticky and flavourful sauce. I served this simply with some stir-fried snow peas, roasted cauliflower and chinese egg noodles, drizzling a bit of the extra sauce over those sides. Good easy weekend meal or for a day you are working at home, and can spend a short time assembling the marinade and popping it all in the fridge. This is a very lean cut, and for a char siu “style” meat the recipe works, but if you wanted to use it more like traditional char siu (including in stir-fry dishes), I would prefer something like pork picnic shoulder or Boston butt, with a bit more fat.
This is such an easy and delicious recipe; I made it for a dinner party and everyone raved about it. The pork is incredibly moist and juicy, the sauce is flavourful and just so tasty. The recipe itself is deceptively simple—I had all the ingredients already and only had to purchase the tenderloin. It came together quickly and was on the table with little fuss. Exactly what I want in a dinner party entree! I let it marinate for 4 hours and I think I would leave it that long again, as this resulted in a very deeply flavoured and juicy piece of pork. I served this to 6 people and it was not nearly enough. I had made a lot of other food but this was definitely the star of the meal and I would seriously consider doubling the recipe for more than 4 people in the future.
Hanging beside the mahogany ducks in Chinatown are pieces of pork, equally as rich in color, making you wonder if you should walk in and pick something up for dinner. I say that this char siu pork is far, far superior to the aforementioned pork. This dish was a quick, easy weeknight dinner.
I marinated our pork for 2 hours because I had 2 hours when that could be done. If I had had only 30 minutes, I am sure that that would have been sufficient, especially because the glaze flavors the meat so beautifully. I had questioned the cooking temperature, as 300° seemed too low a temperature for the pork to be done in 20 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, my pork was only up to 118° At that point, I followed my instinct, and turned the oven up to 350°. After 10 minutes, my instant read thermometer registered the 145° called for. I brushed what seemed to be half of the dark, succulent glaze on one side of the pork tenderloin. After 2 1/4 minutes, at 4 inches under the broiler, it was a deep mahogany color. I turned the tenderloin over and brushed more of the glaze over the other side of the meat. There was so much glaze in the pan, that I did not use all of it.
The excess glaze ended up being the perfect sauce to dribble over the slices of rich, moist, tender pork. We were very pleased with the way that the pork was cooked. It was still pink inside, done what some would say was medium to medium rare, definitely not overcooked pork which is so commonplace. Our pork was exactly like the color in the picture, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. I actually had trouble keeping myself from slicing extra pieces of pork to dip into the sauce with my fingers. Only the thought of leaving enough pork for one more meal, stopped me from overindulgence. Luckily, that extra meal for the 2 of us will be tonight.
Full disclosure: I live in Iowa and I don’t eat a lot of pork. But after this recipe, that’s going to change. This pork tenderloin is the perfect quick weeknight meal—especially once you’ve got the hang of removing the silver skin. I only had time to marinate it for about 15 minutes and the pork was still flavorful and delicious. I did use a bit extra glaze under the broiler to compensate. The cooking instructions for the tenderloin were a bit off. It was nowhere near done (internal temp of 90!) after 20 minutes, and we were hungry. I jacked the heat to 400 and cooked it for another 15 minutes. Perfect. I broiled it for 2 minutes on each side—brushing each side generously with glaze. The rack stayed in the middle of the oven; I wasn’t going to chance moving it while scorching hot. While the pork rested, I warmed a bunch of street taco-size flour tortillas. I thinly sliced the pork and served it on the tortillas with extra glaze for dribbling. The 3 of us ate the entire tenderloin, which was about 1 1/4 pounds. And we’re going to do it again soon! So much for not eating a lot of pork.
The end result was delicious and the recipe was easy to follow and understand. The cooking time for my pork loin was about 45 minutes. This was probably due to the loin being larger than the one called for in the recipe. I used a marinating container that I have from Tupperware which allows flipping the meat while marinating. I used low-sodium soy sauce and marinated the pork loin for 2 1/2 hours prior to cooking. I flipped the container about 3 times while it was marinating. I roasted the pork on a rack in a pan about 12 inches from the heating element on the middle rack. I served the pork slices with fried rice and stir fried fresh zucchini, mushrooms, and green beans.
Originally published May 16, 2018