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Chinese New Year: BBQ Pork

posted by Annie

Time to celebrate the Chinese New Year! Holiday festivities begin January 31st, the first day of the New Year, and wrap up on Feb 14th with the celebration of the Lantern Festival. The Chinese calendar is based on the lunisolar calendar so the New Year falls on a different date each year. For this reason, this holiday is also known as the Lunar New Year.

Chinese New Year is about new beginnings, family, and food. Each year promises a fresh start. It is traditional to clean your home inside out and upside down!  This sweeps away the bad luck that may be lurking there (along with a few spiders) and makes room for the good luck of the New Year. Much of the holiday is spent eating with family and celebrating togetherness. Gifts are given and ancestors are honored.

I love experiencing new holidays and discovering the ways people rejoice and celebrate around the world. This is a wonderful holiday to experience with your family and friends, whether you are going for an all-out party or just planning a few activities with your kids.  In honor of the Chinese New Year, I wanted to share a special dish with you:


Chinese BBQ Pork: Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧


This amazing recipe comes from Bee Yinn Low at Rasa Malaysia. Find more of her fantastic recipes here ( Some of these ingredients will be new to you. Have no fear! If a girl from rural Minnesota can pull this off, so can you! And the result is definitely worth the extra effort.



  • 1 lb pork butt (cut into 4 pieces)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maltose
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rose wine (玫瑰露酒)
  • 3 dashes white pepper powder
  • 3 drops red coloring (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Now before you panic, lose hope, and reach for the takeout menu, visit your local Asian market. They will have many of these items in stock. No luck with the Asian market?  Well here are a few substitutes that you might already have in your pantry.

Rose wine – cooking sherry is a good substitute for this Chinese cooking wine

Maltose – try corn syrup, it gives the sauce the thick syrupy sweetness of maltose

Five-spice Power – this spice is made up of anise, cinnamon, fennel, clove, coriander, and black cardamom.  I did not have these in powdered form so I simply placed my spices a nylon boiling bag (cheese cloth works too) and simmered that in the sauce. I also added the bag to the meat to marinade overnight.

I was able to find most of the other ingredients at my closest Super Target so check your local grocer.

Now to begin:

  • Place the char siu sauce ingredients in a sauce pan.  Heat it up to simmering and stir well. Continue to heat until the sauce is blended and become slightly thickened and sticky.  Once thickened, take off the heat and let cool.
  • Put your pork pieces and chopped garlic into a hefty plastic bag. Pour in 2/3 of the char siu sauce. Marinate overnight. Put the rest of the sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • The next day, heat the oven to 375 degree F and roast the char siu for 15 minutes.
  • Next, Bee’s recipe has you grill the meat in order to achieve that crisp, charred goodness. Well this is Minnesota and, new moon or no, I am not heading into -20F to grill BBQ Pork. Lucky for me, Nordic Ware just launched a new pan last year called the Cast Grill N Sear ( ). This oven grilling and broiling at its finest! The cast aluminum top absorbs the oven’s heat, allowing your broiler to char the top of your food while the pan sears the bottom.  (And don’t worry about scrubbing this pan clean into the wee hours of the night. The nonstick coating cleans up like a dream).


  • So after your meat has cooked for the 15 minutes, transfer the meat off the pan, swap your oven to broil, and place the Grill N Sear back inside.  This allows cast aluminum top to heat up. Leave in the oven for about 2-3 minutes. While the pan is heating up, brush the meat with some of the remaining char siu sauce.  Once the pan is ready, put the meat back on and hear the sizzling!  Broil the pork until it is charred around the edges.



  • Cut meat into bite size pieces, serve on white rice*, and pour the remaining sauce over your crispy pork.



  • *If you ever have trouble making that dense, sticky rice, try this: Use equal water to white rice ratio. Pour the water into a sauce pan, add a tablespoon of butter per cup of water and a dash of salt. Bring the water to a boil then stir in the rice. Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
  • DO NOT LIFT THE LID -Don’t you do it. Trust me on this.
  • Now allow the rice to simmer for 15 minutes after which you should remove from heat and let it rest for ten. After resting, (now you can remove the lid) fluff with a fork and serve. This should give you wonderfully fluffy rice!


Enjoy your meal and get excited for the fresh beginnings brought on by the Chinese New Year!