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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Char Siu Challenge

WARNING - Another porky post.

This incident of making char siu is just accidental. I was shopping at the butchers and the lady kept asking me if I needed anything else.. Wong Tai.. oi mat yeah ar ? mai lei kor pei yuk lar.. hou leang ah.. bla bla bla.. and so, I came back with few strips of meat for char siu.

Hubs was surprised. I last made char siu about 6 years ago and it was a flop. Not sweet, not savoury, more like just a piece of meat cooked in soya sauce.

Then, there was no food blogging. I depended only on recipes from word of mouth, a little bit from the wantan mee lady who makes her own char siu and a little bit from aunts and friends and a little bit of common sense (sorry but not much cooking sense then). I bought so many tubs of malt sugar to try the recipe until I got fed up and threw it all away.

Now, there's 'food blogging' and wonders of the internet. I can browse more than 20 char siu recipes in a run. Fantastic isn't it ?

Anyway, hubs wasn't too enthusiastic when I told him I'm gonna make char siu. He's a bit skeptical and said he'd prefer roast pork instead but I think I've had enough with siew yuk. I've gathered all information I could from the net and pieced together what I thought was right and in my mind, I mantra-ed Meng Kee char siu form Tengkat Tong Shin. Think positive, it'll happen, I told myself. HA HA HA !!!

And so, here goes, you judge for yourself if you want to give this a try :

Ask the pork seller for best cut of meat for char siu. They know best, trust me, forgive the fattiness please, you can always opt not to bite the fat parts but you do need it to give your char siu the princely look. I also added some red cochineal coloring. A little bit of approved food coloring won't harm and I believe char siu should be slightly red (like I said, think Meng Kee char siu, , think hard.. and believe mine will turn out almost like theirs.. )

Rinse and pat meat really dry ( I used kitchen towels). I mean really really dry, you really need to sauce to be absorbed to the meat. Marinate with (amount 'agak agak' only, I didn't expect it to turn out blog worthy and I didn't bother noting it down :

4 heap tbsp sugar
2tbsp tomato ketchup
half cube red fermented bean curd (nam yue) and 1 tbsp of it's sauce
2pips of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 tsp fish sauce
2tbsp soya sauce
2tbsp abalone sauce
1tbsp chinese rose wine (mui kwai loe)

marinate overnight

Bake in foil covered tin for 1hour at 200c

Then open and drizzle with malt sugar on the fats.. grill at 200c

Turn fat side up to grill and get the 'charred' look. During the grill function, the sauce will sizzle and thicken.

Grill for about 20-30 mins or until meat looks charred like this :

And when you cut the meat, it should look like this :

So how ? You think this is a pass ?
Some recipes calls for pan frying the char siu but I think that'll make the meat tough. I personally would prefer a slow meltdown on the fats to render a savoury and melt in the mouth char siu. I may try this recipe using the pressure cooker for a faster and simpler cooking time. If it's good and blog worthy, I'll post it up. That's my December project !