How to Make Authentic Char Siew (Cantonese Barbecue Pork)

If you’re anything like me, it’s almost impossible to walk past a Cantonese barbecue shop without picking up a pack of char siu (barbecue pork), siu yuk (roast pork belly) or any other of the sticky, crispy, shiny and delicious meats on offer. The thing is, they’re amazingly easy to make at home as well. This authentic char siu recipe will give you excellent results that are even better than buying them from the shop.

Ingredients

1.5kg pork neck or belly (skin and bone removed), cut in 5cm strips

Marinade

30g (2 tbsp) sugar

40g (2 tbsp) Hoisin sauce

20g (1 tbsp) red fermented bean curd plus 40ml (2 tbsp) of its liquid

3g (1 tsp) five spice powder

15g garlic (4 cloves) crushed with ¼ tsp salt

20ml (1 tbsp) ginger juice

20g (1 tbsp) soy sauce

40g (2 tbsp) Shaoxing wine

Glaze

30g 2 tbsp sugar

40ml 2 tbsp water

80g 4 tbsp maltose

 

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and add the pork. Coat the pork well the marinade (I do this by hand, wearing gloves). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
  2. When ready to cook, combine the ingredients for the glaze and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Heat your oven to as hot as it will go. I cook this at 230C (fan-forced). Cover a tray with foil (there will be a lot of caramel drips that will burn to black, so this just helps with the clean up) and place a tray on top. Brush the tray with oil and place the pork on top. Roast for 15 minutes.
  4. While the pork is roasting, bring the glaze to a boil again. When the pork has roasted for 15 minutes, brush with the hot glaze and roast for 5 minutes. Brush with the hot glaze again and roast for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the glaze again and allow to rest. After the pork has rested for about 10 minutes, brush with the glaze one last time.

(L to R) Maltose, red fermented tofu, and Hoisin sauce.

Red fermented tofu. This gives the char siu a delicious savoury flavour and also helps with the colour.

A video for this recipe is coming soon, but for now take a look at this one!

Additional Tips

  • The three ingredients you might find a little odd are the maltose, red fermented tofu and Hoisin sauce. All of these are common ingredients in Chinese cooking and will be available from any Asian grocery store.
  • The roasting process is really important for getting good colour on the meat. The vibrant red colour on the char siu is a little to do with the red fermented tofu but really it’s more a factor of good browning of the meat, and getting good caramelisation of the glaze. You don’t need to add food colouring (although some shops do – it’s up to you really).
  • The glaze should to be hot when brushing it on the pork in the oven so that it caramelises easily.
  • In a Chinese barbecue oven the meat will hang on a hook so that it browns well. In a domestic oven it’s difficult to try and hang meats so it’s better just to use a tray. You don’t need to flip the meat while it’s cooking as that will just damage the glaze. Better to have 3/4 of a piece of meat beautifully glazed with a base that isn’t quite perfect than to keep flipping it and end up with a bad glaze all over.

It’s best to marinade the pork at least overnight but you can leave it for 2 days if you prefer. If you’re in a rush you could cook it after an hour but it won’t be quite as tender or flavourful.

There will be lots of dripping glaze that will burn in the oven, so line your tray and oil the rack so that they’re easier to clean.

Good browning and charring on the meat in it’s initial cooking phase is essential both for flavour and colour in the final char siu.

Multiple layers of glaze build up to give a lovely shiny look to the final product.

Wok-fried Prawns and Broccoli in Ginger Sauce

Wok cooking doesn’t always mean throwing everything into the wok together. One of the most important parts of wok cooking that nobody ever seems to talk about is how easy a wok is to brush out so that multiple ingredients (or dishes) can be cooked separately and in quick succession. That is the true secret to a wok’s versatility and what makes it great for home cooking. Imagine cooking different 5 dishes in one pot and having nothing to wash at the end of it all other than a quick brush out under running water.

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli, separated into florets

¼ cup peanut oil

1 eschallot, finely minced

12 large raw prawns, peeled (tails intact) and deveined

1 cup chicken stock

2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp light soy sauce

½ tsp sugar

½ tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning

2 tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp cornflour mixed to a slurry with 2 tbsp chicken stock

Method

Heat about 2 cups of water in your wok and add 1 tbsp of oil. Bring to a simmer and add the broccoli. Simmer the broccoli for about 2 minutes until tender, then remove and set aside. Drain the water and return the wok to the heat.

Add a further 1 tbsp of oil in the wok and add the eschallot, frying for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the prawns, a pinch of salt and stir-fry until the prawns are cooked through. Transfer the broccoli and prawns to a warm serving plate.

Return the wok to the heat and add the stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Squeeze the juice of the ginger only into the sauce. Add the cornflour slurry and stir until the sauce is thickened. Pour the sauce over the prawns and broccoli and serve.

Here’s a video to walk you through it:

Extra Hints

  • This dish works great with squid, too. Any seafood really. In Asian cooking, ginger is often used with seafood to counteract fishy aromas.
  • Butterflying the prawns is very important. It helps to create a lovely springy texture.
  • Woks – like all pans – are best cleaned directly after using them. I don’t wash my wok with soap, as it can impact on the natural seasoning of the metal that makes it non-stick. All a wok needs to clean it is a quick brush out under running water (do it while the wok is hot, but make sure you’re using a natural fibre brush – cheap plastic ones will melt on the hot wok) and then put it back on the heat to dry and sterilise. The ability to quickly clean a wok is what makes it such a useful tool for family cooking.

Korean Fire Chicken – Buldak

Be warned, this recipe is HOT – and in the best possible way. Buldak or “Fire Chicken” is a favourite Korean street food chicken dish known for its intense heat and rich, complex flavour.

It started from roaming street carts in Seoul that grilled the chicken covered in the spicy sauce over open flame fire pits, but these days you can find Fire Chicken in Korean restaurants all over the world. I’m not usually one to try to push chilli to the limits of tolerance. I usually think that chilli should be a gentle background heat rather than all-out flamethrower, but for this one dish I put that rule to one side. The hotter this dish is, the more the chilli brings out the complexity in the sauce. It honestly does taste better the more it hurts!

Give it a try once and you’ll be hooked. You’ll probably end up in a red, sweaty heap crumpled in your chair afterwards, but I guarantee you’ll have a smile on your face 🙂

Ingredients

1 whole free-range chicken (approx. 1.7kg)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sake

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 spring onions, finely sliced

¼ head cabbage, finely shredded, to serve

2 tbsp Korean or Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

sesame leaves (Korean perilla), to serve (optional)

pickled daikon, to serve (optional)

Fire chicken sauce

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp Korean chilli powder (mild or hot, as you prefer)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp hot English mustard

1-3 red bird’s eye chillies (as you prefer)

3 cloves garlic, peeled

½ large onion (peeled and cut into chunks)

½ large nashi (Asian pear) (peeled and cut into chunks)

 

Method

  1. With a cleaver, cut the chicken into 10-12 pieces, on the bone. If you prefer, you can use around 1.25kg boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks. Combine the chicken with the soy sauce, sake and black pepper and set aside.
  2. For the Fire chicken sauce, combine all the ingredients in a blender and process to a smooth paste. If you add the ingredients in the order in this recipe, you won’t need to wash your measuring spoon between measurements.
  3. Heat the oil in a large shallow casserole dish or frying pan over high heat and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium, add the fire chicken sauce and stir to combine. Cook for around 8 minutes, stirring frequently until the chicken pieces are cooked through. Scatter with the spring onion and serve with the shredded cabbage, mayonnaise, sesame leaves and pickled radish, if using.

Here’s a video of how to make it:

Additional Tips

  • Make sure you use proper Korean chilli powder instead of ordinary Western chilli powders, which often have more heat, less colour and less chilli flavour. Don’t be worried if your sauce looks a little more pale than mine after you’ve finished blending, the colour will come after it sits for a few minutes.
  • Korean chilli powders come in different heat strengths. If you prefer a more mild chicken dish use a more mild powder rather than using less volume of a hotter chilli powder.
  • If you’re not confident cutting up a chicken on the bone, it’s totally fine to make this dish with boneless chicken thigh pieces instead.
  • Another variation of this dish (particularly when using boneless chicken) is to include sliced Korean rice cakes (tteokgukyong-tteok) and bake it covered in cheese!
  • Don’t skip the accompaniments. The cabbage and pickles really do help to balance the heat.

 

Caramel-braised Beef Short Ribs

Beef short ribs are a truly fantastic cut of meat. You can eat them like a steak, or stew them until their falling apart, and either way they won’t let you down. On the bone, they add mountains of flavour to a stew. This simple recipe is one of those where you just throw everything into the pot and let it go. Give it a try.

Serves 6-8

 

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp sesame oil

2kg beef short ribs

¼ cup Shaoxing wine

½ cup light soy sauce

¼ cup dark soy sauce

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tbsp toban jian (Sichuan chilli-bean sauce)

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 small bulb garlic, unpeeled, split in half crossways

1 onion, unpeeled, halved

5 slices ginger

4 thin spring onions, thinly sliced, to serve

1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced, to serve

½ cup coriander leaves, to serve

steamed rice, to serve

 

Method

  1. Place a heavy casserole over medium-high heat and add ½ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of water. Bring to a golden caramel and then add the sesame oil and short ribs, rolling to coat in the caramel. Add the Shaoxing wine, the soy sauces, spices, toban jian, garlic, ginger, onion, remaining sugar, and top up with water. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours until the short ribs are tender, stirring occasionally. Adjust for seasoning as required.
  2. Transfer the ribs to a serving plate and spoon over a little of the braising liquid. Scatter with the coriander, spring onions, and chilli to serve.

You can watch a video of this being made here:

 

Additional Tips

  • Instead of short rib you could also use chuck steak, shin, osso bucco, ox tail, or any other slow-cooking cut.
  • You could also cook this in the oven if you preferred. Cook everything on the stove until you get to the long-simmering part, then transfer it to a 170C oven for about 3 hours.

Hulk Spaghetti

Our kids usually just eat the same things that we adults eat, which is a great way to feed them as they learn to appreciate new foods and it makes life a lot easier when you only have to cook once. That said, I don’t think it’s great for kids to eat the same as adults all the time as it can very quickly lead to the adults just cooking and eating slightly boring food all the time. I still make the curries and other strong, spicy  or challenging dishes I grew up with that my kids just aren’t ready for, but that I don’t want to lose as part of their (and my) culinary heritage. Part of learning about food as a kid is watching what your parents eat, even if you might not want to eat it yourself.

On those occasions I need to make something separate for the kids, and right now this vegetarian Hulk Spaghetti is a real favourite of our superhero obsessed son, Christopher. It’s not just for kids either.

Ingredients

Serves 4-8 kids, depending on their ages (or in our case, 2 kids 4 times)

500g dried spaghetti

1/2 head broccoli, in florets and including stalk cut into large chunks

5-6 leaves of kale, or 2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup cream (optional)

2 tbsp butter or 2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 sheet nori, cut into 5cm strips and very finely shredded

 

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt it for cooking the pasta. Add the broccoli and kale to the water and boil for about a minute. Remove with tongs and transfer to a blender. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to the packet directions.
  2. After about half of the cooking time of the pasta has elapsed, add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the blender and blend the vegetables to a puree. Add the cream and butter (or olive oil) and allow the butter to melt a little before blending to a smooth sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning.
  3. When the pasta is al dente, drain it well and return it back to the pot on low heat (or a separate frying pan, if that is easier). Add the sauce and parmesan and stir briskly to combine. Divide the spaghetti between bowls and top with the shredded nori for the Hulk’s hair.

 

Additional Tips

  • Tasting the sauce in step 2 is the most important part. If the sauce doesn’t taste good on its own, it won’t taste good with the pasta. Taste and adjust it to the seasoning and texture you prefer.
  • Always finishing cooking pasta together with the sauce rather than just ladling or pouring it on top. This allows the al dente pasta to absorb the flavours of the sauce and with make your pasta much, much tastier every time.
  • As a variation to this you could add a bit of chopped ham, or some peas (or both) but don’t overdo the ingredients. Pasta should be about the pasta, not the stuff you put in it.
  • If you can’t be bothered slicing the nori for the Hulk’s hair (it can be a bit difficult if your knife isn’t very sharp), you can just wave it over a gas flame for a few seconds until the nori becomes brittle and then crumble it over the top.

Beef Short-Rib Rendang

To make a great rendang you need to first understand what a rendang is. It’s a fragrant stew more than a curry, and the aromas of the galangal, ginger and turmeric should be more prominent than the hard spices. Turmeric leaves are more traditional than makrut (kaffir) lime but they are very hard to find in Australia.

 

Ingredients

2 medium onions or 8 eschallots, peeled and roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2-6 bird’s eye chillies, stalks removed (as you prefer)

5cm each fresh turmeric, galangal and ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

¼ cup vegetable oil or coconut oil

2kg beef short ribs

400ml coconut cream

3 stalks lemongrass, fat stalks only, bruised

6 makrut lime (kaffir lime) leaves

1 piece cassia bark

2 star anise

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tsp salt

1 cup dessicated coconut

 

Method

  1. Combine the onion, garlic, chilli, turmeric, galangal and ginger in a blender and blend to a puree, adding a little water if necessary to help it blend. Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole dish over medium heat and fry the paste for 15-30 minutes (the more water you add to the paste, the longer you will need to cook it to evaporate the water before it starts to fry), stirring occasionally at the beginning and constantly as it thickens so that it doesn’t splatter or catch on the base of the pan. This paste, known as a rempah, is ready when it is browned, fragrant and thick.
  2. Add the beef ribs and toss to coat in the rempah. Then add the coconut cream and enough water to barely cover the ribs. Add the lemongrass, 3 of the makrut lime leaves, cassia, star anise, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer and cover and simmer for about 2-2.5 hours, stirring occasionally until the beef starts to become tender. Remove the lid and simmer for about 1 hour more, stirring occasionally again until the stewing liquid is reduced to a thick, very oily sauce.
  3. Heat a dry frying pan over low-medium heat and add the coconut. Fry the coconut, stirring constantly until it is a deep golden brown and add the coconut to the rendang, stirring to combine. This caramelised coconut is known as kerisik. Cook for a further 30 minutes or so at simmering heat until deep brown, oily and thick. The rendang can be eaten straight away but will benefit from being covered and left overnight to develop. Finely shred the remaining makrut lime leaves and scatter over the rendang to serve.

 

Some Extra Tips

Don’t overdo the spices. A rendang should take the fragrances of galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, makrut lime and ginger before being overwhelmed with spices. I put a bit of whole cassia and star anise in mine but I’ve seen recipes that use cumin, coriander etc. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I just don’t think it’s necessary.

Cook everything for a looooong time. Both the rempah and the rendang itself. Like a Spanish soffrito, a rempah takes time to develop flavour. Mine is just blended onion (or shallot), garlic, ginger, galangal, chilli and fresh turmeric. The rendang, too, needs to cook for long enough to crack the coconut cream and reduce down so that beef is essentially frying in the coconut oil.

It’s up to you how wet or dry you want your rendang to be. Some can be as wet as a very thick soup, and others completely dry, almost like jerky. It all depends on how long you reduce the stew for (i.e. how long you cook it uncovered vs. covered), and how long you let if fry in the separated coconut oil.

The kerisik is the key the rendang’s texture. Some recipes don’t include this but it’s mandatory in my opinion. Kerisik is caramelised coconut (toasted dessicated is fine, but historically it’s caramelised coconut meat). It deepens the flavour of the rendang and thickens it as well.

Rendang needs time to mature. Make it a day or two before you want to eat it if you can.

You can make this with other stewing cuts of beef like chuck, or even with lamb shanks.

Enjoy!

27 Recipes from April 2016

Roundup

I just realised that for all the hundreds of recipes that I write every year between my columns, books, TV series and so on, I put very few of them up on this site. Of course they’re always available if you want to search for them, but it might just be easier for me to collect the links together for you all so that you can access them all here.

So here’s the first in my monthly roundup of recipes you can all try. They’re all online. And they’re all free. Enjoy!

 

Superior Soup

Superior Soup

 

Spaghetti with zucchini and spinach

Green Pasta

 

Sago with coconut and melon

Sago, melon and coconut soup

 

Salmon salad with green tahini dressing

Green Tahini Salmon

 

Swedish meatballs in cream sauce

 

Danish baked pork belly with parsley sauce

Custom (1 of 8)

 

Semla (Swedish cardamom buns)

 

Real-deal carne asada tacos

 

Mexican sweet pumpkin flan

Sweet Pumpkin Flan

 

Thursday pea soup with rye and spelt pancakes

Custom (7 of 8)

 

Dutch baby with bananas and berries

 

Green shakshuka with hummus

 

Rainbow salad

Rainbow Salad

 

Swedish onion tart with sour cream and salmon roe

 

Roast chicken with VIVs (Very Important Vegetables)

 

Glazed wild boar with double-sided Hasselback potatoes

 

“The Lawyer’s Lunch” smørrebrød

 

Danish apple doughnuts (Æbleskivers)

 

Double dumpling chicken soup (Hønsekødsuppe)

 

Viking salmon with skagen sauce

 

Raspberry and marzipan spandauer

Custom (3 of 8)

 

 

 

Chicken Kra-pow

Krapow-Gram-(1-of-1)

CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO OF THIS RECIPE.

This might just be the easiest Thai recipe I know. Just a few ingredients in perfect balance for a delicious and authentic meal.

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic
2 large red chilies, seeds removed
500g chicken thigh (you can use breast, or a mixture of the two)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp caster sugar
1 ½ cups loosely packed Thai basil leaves
a wedge of lime and a fried egg (optional), to serve 

 

Method

  1. Roughly chop the garlic and chilli together on a board. In a separate bowl, coarsely chop the chicken to your preferred consistency and mix through the oyster sauce.
  2. Heat a wok and add in the oil. Fry the garlic and chili for a few minutes until fragrant and then add in the chicken. Mix the chicken with the chilli and garlic and distribute it over the surface of the wok for a minute or two to caramelise slightly. Toss, then allow to sit in contact with the wok again for another minute. Add in the fish sauce and sugar, toss and continue to fry for another minute or so, moistening with a little water or stock if it starts to get too dry.
  3. Stir through the basil leaves and remove from the heat. Top with a fried egg if you like, and serve with rice and a wedge of lime.

This recipe appears in my third book, Asian After Work.

Asian After Work

 

Steamed Ginger Chicken

Steamed Ginger Chicken

Watch a video of how to make this recipe here.

Ingredients

600g chicken thigh fillets

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp cornflour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

2 spring onions, finely chopped

¼ cup coriander leaves, to serve

Method

  1. Cut the chicken pieces into 5cm chunks. Mix the chicken with the ginger, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, cornflour, salt, sugar and spring onions. Set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Arrange the chicken in a single layer over a heatproof serving plate that will fit inside your steamer. Bring the water under the bamboo steamer to a boil and place the plate of chicken inside. Cover the steamer and steam for 10 minutes for boneless pieces, and 12 minutes for pieces on the bone.
  3. Remove the plate from the steamer and allow to stand for a minute. Scatter the chicken with the coriander and serve immediately.

This recipe is from my book, Asian Cookery School. I hope you like it!

Watch a video of how to make this recipe here.

Adam Liaw's Asian Cookery School

Beef and broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

Ingredients

500g rump steak, very thinly sliced on an angle

2 cups broccoli florets

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced

3 thin slices of ginger, bruised

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

¼ cup oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp sugar

2 tbsp Coarse stock, Chicken stock or water

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp cold stock or water

Meat marinade

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp cornflour

a pinch of white pepper

 

Method

  1. Combine the beef with the meat marinade ingredients and marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Heat about a cup of water in the wok until boiling, add dash of oil and blanche the broccoli for about 1 minute until it is bight green and slightly softened. Drain and set aside until ready to fry.
  3. Drain the water from the wok and dry the wok over the flame. Add about 2 tbsp oil and add the ginger first then the garlic to the oil, then the onion and fry until the onion is softened. Scoop the onion, ginger and garlic out of the oil and add to the broccoli. Using the flavoured oil left in the wok, fry the beef in batches until well browned. Return all the ingredients back into the wok and toss together. Add the the oyster sauce, soy sauce, stock and sugar and toss to coat. Slowly drizzle the cornflour mixture into the wok while tossing until the liquids thicken and cling to the ingredients. Immediately remove to a plate, rest for a moment and serve with rice and little chilli in soy sauce.

This recipe can be found in my book, Adam Liaw’s Asian Cookery School.

Adam Liaw's Asian Cookery School