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Chinese Roast Pork Sauce Recipe: How to Make It at Home

If you're a fan of Chinese cuisine, you'll know that roast pork is a staple dish that's enjoyed by many. The dish is typically made by marinating pork belly in a blend of spices and sauces, then roasting it until it's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. However, the key to making the perfect Chinese roast pork lies in the sauce that's used to marinate the meat.

A chef prepares a rich, glossy sauce for Chinese roast pork, combining soy sauce, honey, hoisin, and spices in a sizzling wok

The sauce used in Chinese roast pork is a crucial component of the dish, as it imparts the meat with its signature sweet and savoury flavour. While there are many variations of the sauce, most recipes call for a blend of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, and spices such as five-spice powder. Some recipes also call for the addition of seafood, such as oyster sauce or shrimp paste, to add depth of flavour.

Making Chinese roast pork is a labour of love, as it requires several steps and a fair amount of time to prepare. However, with the right ingredients, techniques, and tips, you can create a delicious and authentic version of this classic dish in your own kitchen. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the essential ingredients and preparation techniques for making Chinese roast pork, as well as tips for cooking and glazing the meat to perfection.

Understanding Chinese Roast Pork

A whole Chinese roast pork glistens with a caramelized glaze, resting on a bed of fresh herbs and spices. The meat is succulent and juicy, with crispy skin that crackles with each bite

If you are a fan of Chinese cuisine, you must have heard about Chinese roast pork or char siu. It is a popular dish that is loved by many around the world. This dish is made by marinating pork with a combination of different spices and sauces and then roasting it until it is perfectly cooked. In this section, we will take a closer look at the history, origin, key flavours and spices of this delicious dish.

History and Origin

The history of Chinese roast pork can be traced back to ancient China. It was originally made by barbecuing wild boar over an open fire. Later on, this dish became popular in Cantonese cuisine, which is known for its roast meats. Today, you can find this dish in many Chinese restaurants around the world, especially in Chinatown areas.

Key Flavours and Spices

The key to making delicious Chinese roast pork lies in the marinade. The marinade is made up of a combination of different spices and sauces, including five-spice powder, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Five-spice powder is a blend of five different spices, including star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. It adds a unique flavour to the dish that is hard to replicate.

Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet and salty sauce that is made from soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and various spices. It is a popular condiment in Chinese cuisine and is often used in marinades and stir-fry dishes. Soy sauce is another essential ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It is made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and water and adds a salty and savoury flavour to the dish.

Sesame oil is a fragrant oil that is made from toasted sesame seeds. It adds a nutty flavour to the dish and is often used in marinades and dressings.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your Chinese roast pork recipe, you can try adding some shrimp or scallops. Shrimp and scallops are both popular seafood options in Chinese cuisine and can be used to add a unique flavour to the dish. Simply marinate the seafood in the same marinade as the pork and roast it until it is cooked through.

Essential Ingredients

A table filled with ingredients: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and five-spice powder. A bowl of marinated pork sits nearby

If you want to make the perfect Chinese roast pork sauce, you need to start with the right ingredients. Here are the essential ingredients you'll need for this recipe:

Selecting the Right Cut of Pork

When it comes to Chinese roast pork, there are a few different cuts of pork that work well. Pork shoulder, pork butt, and pork belly are all great options. Pork belly is the most traditional cut for Chinese roast pork, but if you prefer a leaner cut, pork tenderloin can work too.

Marinade Components

The marinade is what gives Chinese roast pork its signature flavour. Here are the key components of the marinade:

  • Garlic: Garlic is an important flavour in Chinese cuisine, and it adds depth to the marinade.
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce is a staple in Chinese cooking and adds savoury umami flavour to the marinade.
  • Hoisin: Hoisin sauce is a sweet and savoury sauce that adds depth to the marinade.
  • Honey: Honey is used to balance out the savoury flavours in the marinade and adds a touch of sweetness.
  • Sugar: Sugar is used to help caramelise the pork and adds sweetness to the marinade.
  • Salt: Salt is used to enhance the flavour of the marinade and the pork.
  • Chinese five spice: Chinese five spice is a blend of five spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds) that adds a warm, spicy flavour to the marinade.
  • Sesame oil: Sesame oil is used to add a nutty flavour to the marinade and pork.
  • Shaoxing rice wine: Shaoxing rice wine is a type of Chinese cooking wine that adds depth and flavour to the marinade.
  • Maltose: Maltose is a type of sugar that is used to give the pork a shiny, caramelised glaze.
  • Red bean curd: Red bean curd is a fermented soybean product that adds a savoury, umami flavour to the marinade.
  • Red yeast powder: Red yeast powder is a type of yeast that is used to give the pork a red colour.

If you want to add seafood to your Chinese roast pork sauce, you could add some oyster sauce or fish sauce to the marinade. However, be careful not to overpower the pork with too much seafood flavour.

Preparation Techniques

A chef mixes soy sauce, hoisin, honey, garlic, and five-spice powder in a bowl to create a marinade for Chinese roast pork

Marinating the Pork

To prepare the Chinese roast pork sauce, you first need to marinate the pork. Take a pork belly and trim off any excess fat. Then, score the skin in a criss-cross pattern, making sure not to cut too deep into the meat. This will help the marinade penetrate the meat and give it a crispy texture.

For the marinade, you can use a combination of soy sauce, rice wine, hoisin sauce, honey, five-spice powder, garlic, and ginger. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then rub the marinade all over the pork, making sure to get it into the scored skin. Cover the pork with cling film and leave it in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight.

If you want to add seafood to the recipe, you can use prawns or squid. Simply mix them in with the marinade and let them sit for 30 minutes before cooking.

Setting Up the Oven

Once the pork has marinated, it's time to preheat the oven. Preheat your oven to 220°C and line a baking tray with foil. Place a wire rack on top of the tray and then remove the pork from the fridge. Pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess marinade.

Place the pork on the wire rack, making sure the skin is facing up. This will allow the skin to crisp up as it cooks. Roast the pork in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C and continue to cook for a further 40-50 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and the skin is crispy.

If you want to add seafood to the recipe, you can add prawns or squid to the baking tray during the last 10 minutes of cooking. This will give them a chance to cook through without overcooking. Serve the Chinese roast pork sauce with steamed rice and your choice of vegetables.

Cooking and Glazing

Pork roasting in oven, glazed with Chinese sauce. Ingredients laid out on counter. Steam rising, aroma filling the kitchen

Roasting Process

Now that you have marinated your pork using the recipe provided, it is time to cook and roast the pork. You can either use an oven or a charcoal grill for the cooking process. If you are using an oven, preheat it to 375°F (190°C). If you are using a charcoal grill, heat the coals until they are white-hot.

Place the pork on a wire rack in a baking dish and roast it in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the pork on a charcoal grill for approximately 30 minutes, turning it frequently to ensure even cooking.

Applying the Glaze

Once the pork has been cooked, it is time to apply the glaze. Mix together the char siu sauce, honey, and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the glaze over the pork, making sure to coat it evenly.

If you are using an oven, turn on the broiler and place the pork back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. This will help to caramelize the glaze and give the pork a beautiful golden-brown color. If you are using a charcoal grill, move the pork to a cooler part of the grill and cover it with a lid. This will help the glaze to set and give the pork a nice shiny finish.

As an alternative to pork, you can also use seafood for this recipe. Prawns or scallops can be used in place of pork. Simply marinate them in the same marinade for 20 minutes and cook them on a grill until they are cooked through. You can then apply the glaze in the same way as you would with pork.

Serving and Pairings

A platter of Chinese roast pork with a side of savory sauce, surrounded by small dishes of pickled vegetables and steamed rice

Accompaniments

Chinese roast pork sauce is a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of accompaniments. The most common pairing is with steamed rice, which helps to balance the richness of the dish. You can also serve it with noodles, fried rice, or dumplings for a more filling meal.

For a more casual meal, you can pair the Chinese roast pork sauce with bao buns or char siu bao. These fluffy buns are perfect for soaking up the sauce and make for a delicious and satisfying meal.

To add some freshness to your meal, you can serve the Chinese roast pork sauce with scallions, broccoli, or greens. These vegetables help to cut through the richness of the dish and provide a nice balance of flavours.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try pairing the Chinese roast pork sauce with seafood. Prawns or squid would be a great addition to the dish, adding a subtle sweetness and a nice texture to the meal.

Presentation Tips

When serving Chinese roast pork sauce, presentation is key. To make your dish look more appetising, you can garnish it with some chopped scallions or sesame seeds. This adds a pop of colour and texture to the dish, making it look more appealing.

You can also serve the Chinese roast pork sauce in a large bowl or platter, with the accompaniments arranged around the edges. This makes for a more visually appealing presentation and allows your guests to mix and match the different components of the meal to their liking.

Finally, make sure to serve the Chinese roast pork sauce hot, straight from the stove. This ensures that the sauce is at its best and that the flavours are at their most intense.

Frequently Asked Questions

A chef pouring a savory blend of soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, garlic, and five-spice powder over crispy Chinese roast pork

How do you whip up an easy dipping sauce for Chinese roast pork?

A simple dipping sauce for Chinese roast pork can be easily made by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. You can also add some chopped garlic, ginger, and scallions to give it more flavor. If you prefer a spicier sauce, you can add some chili oil or sriracha sauce.

What's the secret to the perfect crispy pork belly sauce?

The secret to the perfect crispy pork belly sauce is to use a combination of sweet and salty flavors. You can use a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, and Chinese five-spice powder to create a delicious glaze for your pork belly. For an extra crispy finish, brush the glaze on the pork belly during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Can you suggest a simple Char Siu sauce recipe?

A simple Char Siu sauce recipe can be made by mixing together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, Chinese five-spice powder, and some red food coloring. You can also add some rice vinegar and garlic to give it more depth of flavor. If you want to add some seafood to the sauce, you can try adding some oyster sauce or fish sauce.

What ingredients go into a traditional Chinese pork sauce?

A traditional Chinese pork sauce usually contains soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and some sugar. Some recipes also call for Chinese five-spice powder, sesame oil, and chili oil. If you want to add some seafood to the sauce, you can try adding some shrimp paste or dried shrimp.

Why does Chinese roast pork have that distinctive red hue?

Chinese roast pork has a distinctive red hue because of the use of red food coloring in the marinade. The red color is meant to enhance the visual appeal of the dish and make it more appetizing. However, some recipes use natural ingredients like beetroot juice or red yeast rice to achieve the same effect.

What are some tasty sides to serve with Chinese-style roast pork?

Some tasty sides to serve with Chinese-style roast pork include steamed rice, stir-fried vegetables, and Chinese-style noodles. You can also serve some pickled vegetables or a simple cucumber salad to balance out the richness of the pork. If you want to add some seafood to the sides, you can try serving some shrimp fried rice or stir-fried squid with vegetables.