How To Make Char Siu Sauce – A Simple Guide

by Ella

Char Siu, also known as Chinese BBQ pork, is a beloved dish renowned for its succulent, flavorful meat and caramelized glaze. At the heart of this culinary masterpiece lies the quintessential element: char siu sauce. This sweet and savory sauce is the key to achieving that signature glossy sheen and irresistible flavor. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the art of making char siu sauce from scratch, unveiling the ingredients, techniques, and nuances that elevate this classic condiment to new heights of culinary excellence.

Understanding Char Siu Sauce:

Char Siu sauce is a rich and aromatic marinade typically used to flavor pork, chicken, or other meats before roasting or grilling. While recipes may vary, the core components of char siu sauce typically include a balance of sweet, savory, and umami flavors. Traditional ingredients often include soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey or sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, garlic, and fermented bean curd. The precise combination of ingredients may vary depending on regional preferences and family recipes.


Ingredients for Char Siu Sauce:

To create authentic char siu sauce, gather the following ingredients:


Soy Sauce: Provides a rich, salty base flavor and adds depth to the sauce.


Hoisin Sauce: Imparts sweetness, complexity, and a hint of umami to the sauce.


Honey or Sugar: Adds sweetness and helps caramelize the meat during cooking.

Chinese Five-Spice Powder: A fragrant blend of spices including star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds, providing warmth and depth of flavor.

Garlic: Adds pungent aroma and savory notes to the sauce.

Fermented Bean Curd (optional): Enhances the umami flavor and adds richness to the sauce.

Rice Vinegar (optional): Provides a touch of acidity to balance the sweetness and richness of the sauce.

Shaoxing Wine (optional): Adds depth of flavor and complexity to the sauce.

Making Char Siu Sauce:

Now, let’s explore the step-by-step process of making char siu sauce:

Combine the Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey or sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, minced garlic, fermented bean curd (if using), rice vinegar (if using), and Shaoxing wine (if using). Adjust the quantities of each ingredient to achieve the desired balance of flavors, tasting as you go.

Marinate the Meat: Place your choice of meat, such as pork tenderloin or pork shoulder, in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Pour the char siu sauce over the meat, ensuring it is evenly coated. Cover or seal the dish or bag, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Preparing for Cooking: When ready to cook, remove the marinated meat from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This helps the meat cook more evenly and prevents it from toughening.

Cooking Methods: Char Siu can be cooked using various methods, including roasting, grilling, or barbecuing. For roasting, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and place the marinated meat on a wire rack set over a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the meat in the preheated oven, basting with additional char siu sauce every 10-15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and caramelized on the outside, typically about 45-60 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat.

Glazing: To achieve that signature glossy finish, brush the meat with additional char siu sauce during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. This helps create a caramelized glaze and enhances the flavor of the dish.

Resting and Serving: Once cooked, remove the char siu from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring moist and tender meat. Slice the char siu thinly against the grain and serve hot with steamed rice, noodles, or your favorite side dishes.

Tips for Perfect Char Siu Sauce:

Balance the flavors: Taste the char siu sauce as you go and adjust the quantities of ingredients to achieve the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and umami flavors.

Customize to your preference: Feel free to experiment with additional ingredients such as ginger, sesame oil, or chili paste to customize the sauce to your taste.

Marinate overnight: For maximum flavor infusion, marinate the meat in the char siu sauce overnight in the refrigerator.

Baste and glaze: Basting the meat with additional char siu sauce during cooking and glazing it in the final minutes enhances the flavor and creates a beautiful caramelized exterior.

See Also: How To Make Char Siu Pork at Home


Char Siu sauce is the secret ingredient behind the irresistible flavor and allure of Chinese BBQ pork. By mastering the art of making char siu sauce from scratch, you can elevate your home cooking to new heights and delight your family and friends with the authentic taste of this beloved dish. With a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and aromatic flavors, char siu sauce transforms ordinary meats into succulent, flavorful delights that are sure to impress. So roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embark on a culinary journey to create your own batch of homemade char siu sauce. Your taste buds will thank you!



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