I’ve a bit of a fascination with Eastern/South Eastern Asian food. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese. All immediately evoke memories of food that assaults the senses with checks and balances of flavours and textures. Theres something immediately satisfying about it all especially, for me, in South East Asian food which I’m particularly fond of with it’s wonderful combination of hot, sweet and sour. I’m going to save that for another day and another dish though.
Chinese food retains, in some of it’s dishes, this ‘holy trinity’ of flavours, but is generally much more savoury in my opinion with delicious oyster, black bean and yellow bean sauces delivering that knockout ‘umami’ taste. I’ll admit there is probably at lot of help at times from MSG but having visited a fair number of good Chinese restaurants over the years I’ve rarely left feeling less than satisfied. I’ve had more numerous takeaways, with generally speaking, considerably less good quality food but thats another matter 😉
Newcastle has a Chinatown and with it number of Chinese restaurants although some admittedly are the sort of free for all buffet we try and avoid. Not through any misplaced food snobbery, but because I think you can get better for the same price at regular eateries. We won’t go often, but when we do I always check out the menu in the window. If it’s written in English AND Chinese, that’s a good sign its frequented by people who’ll know much more about Chinese food than me…
Anyway, I digress. I was back in a Chinese supermarket the other day and, like a kid in a candy store, bought back all sorts of jars and dips and oils. It was here that I got all the ingredients I needed for char siu pork with its delicious sweet and savoury barbecue type marinade. I used pork fillet although I know pork with a bit more fat would be a lot tastier.
The marinading took an epic 48 hours and was much the better for it than my previous attempts. I’ll admit, I pinched this recipe from Nigel Slater’s piece in the Guardian as I remembered it was a rather more simple than other versions.
I served it with some rice noodles (for a change really, rather than regular steamed rice) and some steamed greens.
For the char siu pork:
- 500g pork fillet
- 2 tbsp honey,
- 100ml/about 6 tbsp hoisin sauce,
- 1 tbsp soy sauce,
- 1 tbsp yellow bean sauce,
- 2 tbsp rice wine – but I used dry sherry, it’s quite similar and I had loads left from Christmas 😉
- 1 tsp of sesame oil.
Simply combine the ingredients and marinade the meat for 24-48 hours. Like the recipe I linked to, I used a plastic food bag as it covers the meat much more effectively, using far less marinade. In fact, I do this for any marinading.
To cook it, get the oven on to about 180ºC/350ºF/ Gas 5.
Get a roasting tin with a rack and place the pork fillet on top (keeping the marinade for later). Fill the bottom of the tray with hot water and carefully place it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Basting and turning the meat avery 10 minutes. Once done and nicely dark on the outside. Cover and leave to rest. Put the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer to reduce for a sauce.
To serve it I simply softened and stir fried some rice noodles (vermicelli) with sliced spring onion/scallions in a little sesame oil and chilli salt. I steamed some sliced greens and bok choi in the steamer for only a couple of minutes and stirred though some soy sauce and a little Oyster sauce for depth. Pour over the reduced marinade. Delicious.