Monday, December 1, 2008

Char Siu Pork ... Final

I love Dim Sum.  Honestly, I figure everyone loves Dim Sum.  If they don't, they just haven't had good Dim Sum yet.  It's just a matter of time before they see the light.  After all, saying "I don't like Dim Sum" is like saying "breathing bores me and I want to stop" or "I tire of these pesky fingers, I think I'm going to cram them into a running wood chipper." 

Now, there are no restaurants around here that sell Dim Sum.  I found a couple places in Cebu that claimed to sell Dim Sum.  And yet, it was just rice toppings.  Not the glorious little pieces of this, that, and the other thing that the waitresses serve from push carts or that you order from a menu packed with so many choices that the text sets new records in small print size.

Like with pizza, if I want Dim Sum, I'm going to have to make it myself.  And, like with pizza, I'll start with the basic foundations and work my way up from there.

Many Dim Sum recipes call for char siu pork ... commonly called Chinese BBQ pork or Cantonese BBQ pork.  It's unbelievably delicious and it's required for many dishes.

After a few iterations and tests, I have what is my final recipe for now.

  • 3 kilograms pork tenderloin
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring

Start with some pork tenderloin.  I had three kilograms of it.  Right now, it's going for P205 per kilo here ... that's about US$1.86 per pound at current exchange rates.  Love that!

I cut off the silverskin.  This is really important.  Silverskin doesn't let taste get through, you can't really chew it.  Silverskin is nasty stuff.  It has to go.  I don't even save it for making sausage like I do when I trim the fat off of other cuts.

OK, I'll admit, I'm a little lazy when it comes to cutting off the silverskin.  A little meat ends up going with the silverskin.  Maybe some day I'll develop the knife skills to waste little or no meat.  I'll get better in time.

Here are all the ingredients.  No surprises here.  Oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, pepper, five spice powder, honey, rice wine, and red food coloring.

I mixed all the ingredients together. Love my whisks ...

Into the sauce with my lovely pieces of tenderloin.  There they stayed overnight in my fridge.

Twelve hours later, I prepped my cooking platform: a half-sized baking sheet with a metal rack.  I put down a piece of parchment to protect the cooking sheet.  When the meat cooks, the sauce and the meat drips down.  The sauce burns badly on the sheet.  With the parchment, cleanup is far, far easier.

At this point, I turned my oven onto 400F (205C).

Here are my pork tenderloins ready-to-go.  They look edible already! 

I saved the sauce and got out my tools for basting.

Into the oven with my meat.  I cooked the meat for 45 minutes.  Every ten minutes, I pulled out the meat, thoroughly basted it, turned it over, and put the meat back into the oven.

Once out of the oven, I let the char siu pork rest for about 15 minutes.  Then, I put it into the fridge for a few hours to cool.  Finally, the meat met my power meat slicer and was turned into the delicious little medalions of red-ringed  pork that I'd seen in Chinese restaurants all my life.

Test Results

Primary Test Group:  Really tasty, kuya!

Test Group U:  Good.

Test Group M:  Very good.

Potential Improvements

I think I'm happy for now.  If I find another recipe that might need testing, I'll do a comparison.  But, for now, this is good.  Tastes right.  Exactly what I need.

Potential Variations

I might try this with Boston butt.  Aside from that, I don't want to vary this at all.


My hard work has paid off.  I can now make a reasonable quality Chinese BBQ pork.  Is it great?  Almost.   But, it's good enough for now.  I want to get to more Dim Sum.

Can't wait!

No comments: