Char Siu– Whip It UP!

CHAR siu, or Chinese barbecued pork, with its charred edges, juicy meat and glistening bits of fat is one of life’s simple pleasures. It looks complex to prepare but it is super easy. All it needs is a good marinade to permeate tender cuts of pork to yield morsels that’s salty and sweet with distinct notes of caramel. Home-made is best of course!

Total Time: 3½ hours
Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: S$12.00
Serves: 4 persons

A: Pork

500g pork belly, washed

B: Marinade

2 tablespoons Oriental BBQ or hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon red yeast sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine or Rose wine
1 teaspoon sugar, granulated
1 teaspoon thick soy sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons honey
2 dashes of pepper, freshly ground
Pinch of salt


  1. Wash meat and pat dry with a paper towel. Fresh pork meat should have a pinkish tinge with fat that is opaque. Place it in a large deep plate.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine pork with marinade. Let it marinate for at least 3-4 hours for the sauces to penetrate the meal. Alternatively, chill pork overnight in the fridge.

2) Set up an air fryer. Skewer the pork on a rotisserie spit.

Note: If using a convection oven, put a wire rack inside a baking tray. Cover tray with baking paper. Then place pork on rack. As it cooks, fat is rendered and it will drip onto the tray below.

3) Preheat air fryer to 200°C on roast and roll function. Roast 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 180°C. Roast another 5 minutes or until each side becomes charred.

Similarly, if using a convection oven, roast for 15 minutes on 1 side. Flip it over. Using a pastry brush, baste meat with marinade. Continue roasting for another 15 minutes until the outside is slightly charred.

4) Pour remaining marinade into a small pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Turn heat off and set it aside.

5) Using a pastry brush, brush some honey on pork. Increase temperature back to 200°C, continue roasting 5 more minutes.

6) Remove pork from air fryer or oven. Allow to cool, about 10 minutes.

7) Slice char siu into thick slices. Drizzle with sauce and serve with steamed rice.

TIPS:  This recipe uses belly pork which has some fat that renders during cooking makes the meat moist. Generally, shoulder butt is used. Other cuts include pork neck or pork collar which lends itself well to both barbecuing and grilling.

If Chinese rice wine is not easily available, use sherry or mirin.

TECHNIQUE: Roast the pork until it takes on slightly charred edges, caramelising bits of exposed fat. This means flavour!

Photos: Calyx Wong

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