Make, Jane, make!: Homemade Char Siu - Worth the Effort!


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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Homemade Char Siu - Worth the Effort!

On my last trip to the butcher, I spied a truly beautiful pork shoulder - plump, marbled and deboned. Our usual go-to recipes for pork shoulder are jerk pork or pulled pork... however, with the weather being decidedly wintry, asking hubby to smoke pork for six+ hours in the snow seemed a bit absurd. Undaunted, I bought the almost four pound shoulder anyway reasoning that we would find some way to eat that pork.

My mom always used pork shoulder and/or ribs to make char siu - a delicious, sweet and salty pork roast that gets additional charm from bits of burnt and caramelised pork goodness. While her char siu was delicious, it never really achieved that perfect sticky, burnt sweetness that the store-bought stuff has. So I did some research and found that her recipe lacked one main ingredient: maltose.

Luckily, I had maltose and some pork shoulder to spare. So using a combination of recipes from momofuku for 2 and Rasa Malaysia, I set to work marinating and waiting.

Before roasting, the marinated meat already smelled wonderful and the aroma that later filled the house during the roasting process was simply divine. In fact, it took a lot of willpower not to tear off a piece of underdone pork and give it a taste test.

And, it took even more willpower not to gobble some down when the roasting was done and I was basting in preparation for the final broiling. But good things come to those who wait and finally the char siu was done. The first question that I asked after tasting our homemade char siu was, "Why have I never made this before?!?"

Hubby loved it, kids loved it, baby loved it. It was a unanimous hit.

Try it yourself and see. The recipes available online are easy to follow and the only hard part is, most definitely, waiting patiently until the moment when you can eat the darn thing.

p.s. Silly me thought I would have enough leftover meat to make some char siu bao (steamed buns filled with this "dessert pork")*. That assumption was an amateur mistake at this pork-loving household... we barely had enough leftover to last us an additional day.  Anyway, I'll definitely be making this again (a six pound shoulder has already been purchased!) and this time there will hopefully be some leftover for lunches and dinners.

*my kids call every sweet pork dish "dessert pork" - e.g. sweet and sour pork, jing dou pork chops and now char siu all = dessert pork. It's brilliant, really.

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