Hong Kong Char Siu

At the time of this post going live, I will be in Ho Chi Minh and heading off to Hanoi! The travel bug has bitten yet again and I’m spending the next two weeks exploring Vietnam and everything its wonderful food scene has to offer. I can’t wait to devour all of the pho, spring rolls, banh mi, bun cha and vermicelli bowls I can get my hands on. Food travel has always been my passion, and I felt great nostalgia when I received my copy of Jeremy Pang’s Hong Kong Diner, full of my Cantonese favourites of pineapple buns, marbled tea eggs and roast Peking duck.

It was only in March that I made my last visit, with another one scheduled for April next year. Hong Kong is a beautiful combination of the old and the new, and infinitely layered. Jeremy Pang’s book covers so many aspects of Hong Kong food culture, from Macanese Pork Chop Pineapple Buns to the street market’s curried fish balls, hot pots to dim sum. Pang is a British-born Chinese chef and it’s clear to see the combination of Euro versus Asian cultures in his utilisation of easy-to-access ingredients, to simple, quick cooking methods.

I decided to try out his recipe for Hong Kong Char Siu, and I was pleasantly surprised that I already had most of the ingredients at home in my pantry. I sourced a beautiful piece of organic pork fillet from Harris Farm Markets, and marinated this overnight; I added a cheeky little bit of red food colouring to make it that traditional hue. I roasted it in the oven and while it didn’t come out with as much char as I would have liked, the lean meat was wonderfully tender and juicy. I can only imagine how amazing it would be with a proper barbecue!

Hong Kong Char Siu (serves 4-6 if served with side dishes)

You will need:

  • 2 x 300g pieces of pork neck fillet/pork belly/pork fillet (belly for extra fat, fillet for a leaner finish);
  • 1/2 a thumb-sized piece of ginger;
  • 2 cloves of garlic;
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice;
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper;
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste;
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce;
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce;
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine;
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce;
  • 2 teaspoons pure sesame oil;
  • 4 tablespoons honey;
  • 2g red food colouring paste.

Finely chop the ginger and garlic, then mix with all the rest of the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Massage the marinade into the pork fillet, then cover and put into the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight for the best results.

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Place the meat on a grill tray, reserving the marinade for basting. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius and roast the pork for 1 – 1 and a 1/2 hours, until well charred on the outside, turning once and basting intermittently with the sauce to get a good caramelised finish on the meat. The slower the cooking process, the more succulent the meat will become.

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If barbecuing instead of roasting, get your barbecue temperature as close to 150 degrees Celcius as possible and close for barbecue for 1 to 1 and a half hours, until well-charred on the outside. Baste as you would in the oven for more flavour and caramelisation.

Enjoy with some fluffy boiled rice and Chinese vegetables, or as I did – with a bowl of wonton soup!

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Confessions of a Glutton was gifted a copy of Hong Kong Diner by Jeremy Pang, thanks to Hardie Grant books

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