Homemade “BBQ Pork Char Siu” Recipe
Make this “BBQ Pork Char Siu” recipe at home in your oven without any sesame or food coloring. This recipe is does not use any peanuts, tree nuts, egg, dairy, shellfish, or fish.
(This post was updated on 10/24/2015 with easier to read formatting and a new picture.)
I have a large extended family because Ah Gung, my grandfather, had 11 children, so I grew up surrounded by many aunts and uncles and close to 30 cousins. Plus we always had a number of family friends attend our family functions as well because my parents were in a close and extensive community of friends from the same area in China. While my parents were from the Canton area and spoke Cantonese, their village dialect was Longdu, which Cantonese people from the surrounding areas do not understand. Anyone that could speak the dialect was considered family and invited to our family gatherings which were huge feasts usually cooked by one person.
How does one person prepare enough food for 30, 40, 50 people? My very clever mom and aunts always bought a few items from siu mei type restaurants, that specialize in roasted and prepared meats, such as roast duck, roast pork, whole soy sauce chicken, etc. to help them round out their menus.
Fast forward 20+ years, our family has food allergies, I still enjoy the roasted meats, my children enjoy them reaction free, and yet I still felt uneasy about buying the meats from a take-out counter. The guy behind the counter takes an order, chops it up, and does it again for the next customer without any prevention of cross contact. This is how it’s done at every Chinese prepared meat counter and they would just think I’m crazy to order a roast duck, for example, but ask exhaustively about ingredients used for the roast pork, BBQ pork, soy sauce chicken, etc.. Food allergies are hard enough to understand, I just don’t have it in me to change tradition, but I could learn to make my own roasted meat.
I decided to try something easy: Char Siu, which is a sweet and savory roasted pork that is delicious over rice, stir fried into noodles, wrapped in dough to make Char Siu Bao, etc.. I looked up a number of recipes and ran into two problems, 1) I didn’t want to use jarred Char Siu marinades because they contain red dye and 2) from scratch recipes call for hoisin sauce which I needed to avoid because, at the time, one of my boys had a severe allergy to sesame. I had to develop my own nut-free, dye-free, sesame-free recipe over the years and it’s been good but I recently found an allergy friendly ingredient that makes the recipe fabulous.
Allergy Aware Asian Fare: Spicely Organics 5 Spice Powder
One key ingredient that I left out for a few years is Chinese 5 Spice powder because I wasn’t certain that it was nut free. When I found out that Spicely makes spices and seasoning free of the top 8 allergens, I went to check them out and was thrilled to find out that they make a 5 Spice Chinese seasoning containing star anise, fennel, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. I like a little licorice and nutmeg in my 5 spice but the results were amazing anyways and the spices were definitely fresh and flavorful! Nom, nom! This recipe could easily serve 8-12. For our family, we eat the char siu with rice and vegetables the first night and then use the leftovers as an ingredient for other foods such as Char Siu Baos, little steamed buns filled with the bbq pork. If Spicely Organics or the 5 Spice seasoning is not available in your store, you can order directly from Spicely or via Amazon (affiliate link). If you have questions about the other ingredients, you can cross reference with “What’s in Nut Free Wok’s Cupboard.“
BBQ Pork "Char Siu"
- 3 pounds pork country style ribs I needed to double the marinade when I used all of a 6 lb tray from Costco
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon black bean paste I use Lee Kum Kee brand
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar can substitute white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder or 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon Spicely Chinese 5 Spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.
Prepare meat by piercing it all over with a fork, add to the marinade and mix.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight and mix the meat again with a fork at least one time.
About 90 minutes before your targeted meal time, preheat oven to 450 °F, take the meat out of the refrigerator, and line a rimmed cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan with foil and place a roasting rack or a large sturdy cooling rack in it.
Drape meat on rack, arranging larger pieces along the edges and smaller pieces in the center for even cooking.
Roast for 20 minutes until the meat looks mahogany colored and the edges start to carmelize and brown and flip each piece of meat over to continue roasting for another 20-25 minutes.
When the second side also looks nicely roasted, remove the tray from the oven and tent the meat with foil for 10 minutes.
To serve, cut the pork across the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices.
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I may mention the names of stores and/or brand names of products that I use, I have not been paid or solicited by any of the above companies to mention them. Spicely sent me samples a year after this post was published. I share products and sources which I use and think may be helpful to readers, all opinions are my own. Please note that manufacturing practices and ingredients can change at anytime without notice and readers are always responsible for assuring allergen safety before buying or consuming foods. NutFreeWok.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.