Thursday, November 6, 2008

Char Siu Showdown!

I want to be able to make good Dim Sum.  Really good, if possible.  I miss it.  And, I'm sure folks around here would like it.  I know my sous chef (pictured to the right) does!

For a while now, I've used a char siu (Chinese BBQ) sauce from a jar I buy at the store.  While it is somewhat OK, it's not great.  It doesn't taste authentic.

And, of course, I want to make the char siu pork from scratch.  Just like everything else.

So, I started snagging recipes from the web.  When I was done, I had eight different recipes I was going to try.  This was going to be a big cooking session.  I felt it was worth it to ensure that I found the right recipe, quickly.

While I was preparing to do the cooking, I noticed that four of the eight recipes were the same.  Just different multiples of ingredients.  So, I cut my list in half.  I adjusted each recipe to produce approximately the same amount of marinade.

With recipes in hand, I set out to test!  Mixing the marinades was easy .. just a little tedious as I didn't want to get things wrong.  I was very careful in ensuring that everything went into the correct bowls.  Four bowls of dark red yummy liquid ...


I used pork tenderloin for the meat. I know this isn't exactly authentic. But, it's readily available here. Other cuts, not so much. I like reliability.


For each recipe, I poured the marinade into a zip-lock bag ... followed by a few cuts of the pork tenderloin.  I put all the bags, in a stew pot for the color safety of the rest of my fridge's goodies, in my chest fridge over night.


Mmm, look at those hunks of meat on the rack ready to go into the oven!  Oh, I can taste it already!


While cooking, I had an idea.  All of the recipes called for pure roasting and basting.  No other methods.  While I'm sure that's the way that they do it in restaurants, I wanted to try something else.

So, I took one piece of pork from Recipe G and created Recipe H.  I cooked it in its own marinade for 30 minutes.  Then, took it out and roasted it for 15 minutes.


Recipe H looked pretty good coming out.  I had high hopes for it.


Here's all the cooked pork, lined up, labeled and ready to test.


Test Results

Recipes G and H won.  These were both from the chair siu recipe from Tigers & Strawberries by Barbara Fisher.

Interestingly, the recipe that used garlic was a big hit with many of the Filipinos.  It was sweeter than the others.  I think that's the main reason.


Now onto step 2: test cooking methods.  I'm looking at roasting, baking it in its marinade then roasting, and smoking.

I'll let you know ...

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