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I can't get enough of char siu—Cantonese barbecue roast pork. A roast pork pun is an absolute must whenever I'm in Chinatown. I make this recipe, which comes painstakingly tested by the folks at Cook's Illustrated, once or twice a year. I usually make it for Thanksgiving, as it's a rich, sweet meat that fits well at the table and a pleasant variation from some done-to-death holiday fare. But since it's first cooked slowly on low heat and then glazed and finished in the broiler, it makes an excellent candidate for grill season. Start it in the oven and finish it on the grill for the best kind of instant gratification. Five spice powder keeps this otherwise straightforward marinade interesting and complex. When used properly, it should never hit you over the head with its flavor, just whisper its presence.

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Chinese Roast Pork (Char Siu)

About This Recipe

Yield:8, at least
This recipe appears in: Spice Hunting: Five Spice Powder


  • 5 pounds pork shoulder (Boston Butt), skinned and off the bone
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup


  1. 1

    Trim the pork of large pieces of fat and cut it into inch-thick strips. Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the honey and ketchup, in a large bowl, adding the sesame oil last to prevent clumping. Reserve 1/3 cup of marinade and set aside. Then add the pork, mix well, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

  2. 2

    The next day, heat the oven to 300°F with two oven racks in the middle. Cover two half-sheet pans with a layer of water and lay cooling racks on top of them. Put the marinated pork on the racks and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Make sure to give the strips of pork some space. Roast for 20 minutes, one sheet pan per rack.

  3. 3

    Prepare the glaze. Combine the reserved marinade, the honey, and the ketchup in a saucepan and reduce on high heat for about five minutes until the mixture is syrupy and bubbles start to stack on each other.


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