Chinese Barbecue Pork | Char Siu




  • ¾ tbsp sugar, brown or white (Note 1)

  • 1½ tbsp honey

  • 1½ tbsp hoisin sauce

  • 1 tsp oyster sauce (not critical)

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (Note 1)

  • ½ tbs soy sauce (normal all purpose soy sauce) (Note 1)

  • ½ tsp five spice powder (Note 2)

  • ½ tsp sesame oil (not critical)

  • 1 tbsp oil (Note 3)

  • Few drops red food colouring, optional (Note 4)


  • 1 lb / 500g pork tenderloin (Note 5)

  • 1 tbsp honey


  1. Place the Marinade ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to simmer for just 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.

  2. Place the pork and Marinade in a ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible, then massage it so the marinade is all over the Pork. Place in the fridge and marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight (up to 24 hours).

To Roast

  1. Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

  2. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with foil or baking/parchment paper and place a rack on top (rack is recommended but not critical).

  3. Remove pork from the marinade, save Marinade.

  4. Mix 1 tbsp honey into Marinade.

  5. Place the pork on the rack and tuck the thin end of the the tenderloin underneath so the whole piece is roughly the same thickness.

  6. Roast for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 - 160F/ 65 - 70C. Around halfway through roasting, baste generously with the reserved Marinade. Sort of dab it on so you get as much Marinade on the pork as possible - this is key for getting the thick, glossy glaze.  Increase the cooking time if you have more meat.

  7. When the pork is cooked, switch the oven to the broiler/grill. Baste the pork very generously with the remaining Marinade (again, dab rather than brush it on), then broil/grill the pork until it is nicely charred and caramelised - around 2 to 3 minutes, or more. Baste at least twice during broiling/grilling - preferably more. It's the key to the thick glaze.

  8. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

  9. Serve with rice and steamed Chinese greens. It is also great to serve on noodle soups, or chopped up inside Chinese pancakes or steamed buns.


1. You can substitute all the sugar + light + ordinary soy sauce for 1½ tbsp of kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce) or Chinese sweet soy sauce.

If you don't have light soy sauce, you can just substitute with ordinary soy sauce.

2. You can get Chinese five spice powder (a mix of spices) in the herb and spice section of supermarkets and it isn't any more expensive than other spices. You can substitute the Chinese five spice powder with 2 tsp extra hoisin sauce BUT you should reduce the sugar to ¼ tsp, otherwise it will be too sweet.

3. The oil is only required if you are using pork tenderloin or another in cut of pork. Because the meat itself does not have enough fat to create that thick sticky glaze.

4. The red food colouring is to make the pork red, like you get at the Chinese barbecue shop. This is purely optional.

5. I use pork tenderloin because it is a personal preference as I like how tender the meat is. It is traditionally made with pork neck or shoulder. You may also use pork belly, but it has more fat. You can use either of those, just cut them into strips ALONG the grain (so when you slice to serve, you are cutting at a 90 degrees angle to the grain) around the thickness of pork tenderloin and then follow the recipe directions.