Once again I’m running on Alaska Time and It's my second Throwback Thursday. I've taken some time to put together some of my previous photos in efforts to make a comprehensive recipe / list of instructions for Char Siu aka Chinese BBQ Style Pork Loin.
I came across a few recipes a while back, and wanted to modify the approach using low and slow style BBQ on my charcoal grill. My inspiration for the sauce base came from Nagi @ https://www.recipetineats.com. Based on my prior cooking knowledge I've modified not only the ingredients, but also the process along the way. I hope you all enjoy!
• Sauce / marinade – made at least the day or two before:
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of hoisin sauce
6 teaspoons of oyster sauce
1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/3 a cup of oil 3 Teaspoons of sesame oil
3 Teaspoons of Chinese 5 spice powder* (see notes in “additional thoughts” if you can’t find it)
2 tablespoons of the following: Fresh cracked pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
Combine all ingredients, bring to a simmer, allow to cool, and then refrigerate sauce overnight in an airtight container.
•The mop – made the day of:
"about" 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the sauce / marinade – This is all preference, because we have a lot of other flavors here.
1 cup of sherry wine
A splash (about 1-2 tablespoons) of mirin (rice wine vinegar)
1-2 tablespoons of garlic chili sauce
1-2 tablespoons of honey
If you don't have sherry wine or mirin, you can substitute for your favorite wine and some good ol' apple cider vinegar.
•Pork loin: Marinade step:
After the marinade has been allowed to cool completely and refrigerate, give it a good shake in the container and pour a ½ a cup of the sauce into a 2 gallon zip style bag. Place pork loin into bag and squeeze out excess air. Seal bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. After marinating for at least 3 hours to overnight (I'm not your boss), preheat your coals @ 350 F /176 C and cook for 25 minutes per pound (.55 kilos) indirect heat / opposite the hot coals - Preferably with pecan wood added to hot coals.
Apply mop via brush every 20-30 minutes. Rotate the meat on the grill halfway through expected cook time. Once the pork reaches an internal temp of 150-155F / 65.5-68.3C remove from heat, tent with foil, and let rest for about 10-20 minutes. The meat will continue to cook while resting.
Alright, now that we got the recipe/ingredients out of the way, let’s look at some sultry progress pics!
Getting some of the sauce/marinade ready.
I say “some” literally, as the originally modified amount of sauce didn’t cover the bill. Ideally you want enough sauce to make up for the marinade, mop, and coat the pork like I did. This way you can drisel all that sultry sauce all over the meat, veggies, and rice after it's sliced. You should also have a tiny bit left for leftovers, because this is an awesome leftovers recipe. The recipe attached should cover your needs, but let me know if it doesn’t! As I mentioned before, you want to do this ideally the day before as the sauce has to cool completely and be at refrigerate temperature to marinate the meat.
Chimney is ready to pour!
Now to get our coals started for indirect heat. As you can see we’ve got a ½ a chimney of lit coals, roughly a full chimney worth of unlit coals down below + a couple of wood chunks of pecan and mesquite. I strongly recommend you try this with pecan as it augments the flavor of the pork. Before pouring your chimney of lit coals down, place an aluminum pan to the opposite side of the coals. Add about 2 cups of water to the pan. This will not only act as a barrier and catch all those drippings, but increase your humidity. Pour the half chimney of lit coals on top of the unlit coals + wood and preheat to 350 F /176 C. Your top and bottom grill vents should be wide open. Only close the top vent as needed in order to stay in temperature range.
The purpose of the mop is going add more flavor, help us keep the meat moist, and supposedly attract more smoke (according to amazingribs.com). By the time I combined ingredients you can see that I’m at 2 cups, but like I said before this a variable depending on how much sauce you like to add to your mix vs what you have available. With the sherry wine and the garlic chili sauce we’ve got some really good additional flavors going on here. I’ve skipped ahead here and pulled the pork loin out of the marinade and placed it opposite the hot coals after preheating. Remember we’re going for indirect heat here. Your grill is a makeshift oven!
As I mentioned you want to rotate the meat halfway through- 180 degrees in direction not temperature, this ensures the front half and the back half cook evenly.
The finish line!
I remember how amazing this smelled when I pulled it the first time… That sounded wrong, but like many of you, I've done it many times.... The only part left was to lick the bark…Still a better love story than twilight...
Anyway... The hardest part is waiting during the resting phase. The meat continues to cook, so it’s important. Leave it alone! If you cut it immediately after pulling it off the coals, the juices will exit and the meat will be dry. Once rested, cut across the loin as if you’re butchering pork chops. Slice how thin you want, and then cut again opposite to make strips. Place the meat on top of some rice and stir fry veggies, and don't forget to drizzle some of that leftover sauce! When I fried up the rabbit food I used some oil, and then topped with a few teaspoons of sauce when they were almost cooked so they would carry the flavor.
Finished up and additional thoughts
In my conquest of exploration I have some additional thoughts on the ingredients, inspiration, and recipe:
*Chinese 5 spice powder: this one I want to cover first as I mentioned it in the recipe. If you want a down and dirty recipe Google it, but I’m going to tell you right now everyone does it differently, and that’s good thing! If you're too lazy to google: The current one I own from the international market contains the following: Cinnamon, black cardamom aka Siamese, fennel, star anise, fructus tsaoko (aka Cao Guo or red Cardamom).
The fun and challenging part is: I don’t know the ratios. This is a prime opportunity to experiment, and perhaps make the recipe closer to our taste. Personally, I think that’s what makes exploration worth it. The first time I tried Alton brown’s corn beef recipe I thought it was good, but wasn't quite were I wanted it. That didn’t stop me from trying it again with different ingredients that better aligned with my palette.
In Nagi’s original recipe she discussed the use of red food coloring to color the meat as an option. You know what also makes meat a red color? Smoking!!! Like this herb stuffed BBQ turkey breasts I made a while back...
So that’s what I’m doing when I revisit this recipe. I’ve already planned a cookout in the next month or so. I’m going to-share the recipe, and (hopefully) provide more in depth details with more sultry progress pics.
Until then, I wish you all well and let me know if you have any questions!
Below is a sneak peek for this upcoming Tuesday:
Homemade Sultry Taco Tuesday!!!
I’m not only going to show you how to make some bitchin tacos, but I’m also going to show you how to make homemade flour tortillas, and some savory salsa.