One of my favorite things to prepare is Char Sui pork. Slightly charred on the outside, juicy and succulent on the inside, it can be prepared in a barbecue, smoker or an oven. My favorite is the oven method and that’s because of my enthusiasm for “s” hooks
Before I started making char sui, I can honestly say that I had no idea what an “s” hook was and could have cared less. Tools, nails, screws and other tool boxy things are my husband’s department, and that’s as it should be.
It was only when I saw a picture on the internet (it must have been of a Chinese market) of hanging pork being grilled over a open fire, well, I wanted to do that!
This was before we bought the smoker and all I had was a Weber; not ideal for hanging. I swear I didn’t see this on the internet; I thought of hanging it from the top rack in the oven! Now that I look on the internet, the idea doesn’t seem to be so original but I’m still glad about it.
At first my husband took some heavy duty wire, stabbed it through the meat, and twisted the wire to stay on the rack. Bad idea. Untwisting the hot wire was impossible so he ended up clipping it off with wire clippers, the pork ended up bouncing off the sides of the oven and we both ended up mad.
The next time I made char sui, he went to his tool box and found 2 “s” hooks. I had 6 pieces of pork so he made the other four out of heavy duty wire. So cool. You just hook the bottom part into the meat and hook the top part onto the rack. When it’s time to baste or remove the meat, holding a baking pan or cookie sheet underneath the meat, you can just nudge the hook off the rack with a knife or whatever.
Char Siu (Char Siew) Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons maltose or corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rose wine (玫瑰露酒) or sake
3 dashes white pepper powder
3 drops red coloring (optional)
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Blend and heat in a sauce pan until slightly thickened and sticky.
Makes enough for 1 lb of pork. I used 2 small pork tenderloins(maybe a bit more than 2 lbs) and the jar was more than enough. If you make the same amount of pork that I made and use the recipe instead of the jar, you’d want to double the char siu sauce recipe.
After the sauce has cooled(if you are using a jar, ignore this), cut the pork into 1/2 lb pieces and put it and the sauce in a zip lock bag. Massage, making sure all surfaces are covered. Refrigerate overnight.
If your favorite pastime is not oven cleaning, prepare your oven! I put aluminum foil both on the bottom of the oven and on the broiling pan. I didn’t clean a thing, just threw away the aluminum foil.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and “s” hook it. Pour the sauce from the bag into a small bowl and reserve. Position the oven rack at the very top of the oven, hook the pork pieces onto the rack(making sure they don’t touch each other) and position an aluminum foiled broiling pan underneath. Roast for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Remove pork from the rack by pushing the hooks off the rack with a knife tip or something. The pork will fall into the broiling pan. Remove the broiling pan and baste the meat with the reserved sauce using a paint brush or, as in my case, a wallpaper brush. The hooks should have cooled and you can easily hook the meat back onto the rack. Continue to roast for 20-25 minutes. Unhook from rack and remove from oven.
Making Eric(guy installing the hardwood floors) a sandwich:
In imitation of the Vietnamese sandwich(Banh mi), I shredded some carrots, mixed them with vinegar and sugar, allowed the mixture to sit for 30 minutes then drained. I thinly sliced a cucumber lengthwise, then placed it in a bowl. I removed a few lettuce leaves and placed them also in a bowl. I had on hand a jar of garlic mayonnaise and a fresh baguette.