Chinese BBQ Pork – Char Siu Pork Smoker Recipe

Chinese BBQ Pork (or Pork Char Siu) is always best done on the Smoker or BBQ to guarantee that charred effect you won’t get from the oven. Char Siu Pork (sometimes called Asian BBQ Pork) is sweet, savoury, spicy and delicious.

Keep in mind that we are going to marinade the pork shoulder (or pork butt in the US) overnight, and then smoke it the next day.

Traditionally Char Siu uses pork belly, but we find it too fatty and prefer to use pork shoulder.

This smoker recipe will serve 6-8 people depending on appetites and choice of side dishes.

What is Char Siu Pork?

Char Siu Pork is a Cantonese dish using meat cut from the shoulder of the pig. The pork is marinated overnight in a sweet, salty BBQ sauce made from Chinese 5 Spice powder, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Chinese rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red food colouring, sugar and honey.

The pork is then roasted in the oven or barbecued over open flames.

Chinese BBQ Pork Stage 1 Prepare the Pork

We prefer to source our meat from a local butcher which allows us to get a good look at the meat, and to get the butcher to trim off any excess fat.

Pork shoulder is less fatty than pork belly, however there is a good chance that you will need to get some fat trimmed off.

When you are ready to prepare your pork pat it dry with some kitchen paper. If your butcher hasn’t already trimmed off excess fat you will need to do it now.

Now we can make the BBQ marinade. 

Chinese BBQ Pork Stage 2 Make the Marinade

For the Char Siu Marinade

1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice powder

1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon of Chinese Rice Wine

2 teaspoons of salt 

1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

1 tablespoon of hot water 

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

4 cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic

3cm piece of fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons of white sugar

2 teaspoons of honey

Char Siu has become a red colour in many Chinese restaurants and takeaways. It is optional to add red food colouring for presentation even though it makes no difference to the taste. 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Set aside two tablespoons of the marinade to baste your pork with during the smoke.

Put your pork shoulder into the bowl and rub the marinade all over the pork using your hands, and trying to get it to cover as much of the meat as possible. 

Cover it with clingfilm and then put it in the fridge overnight. 

Cover the reserved marinade and refrigerate it overnight too. 

Chinese BBQ Pork Stage 3 Smoke the Pork

Smoke the Chinese BBQ Pork at 110°C or 225°F for around 4 hours, but more importantly until the internal temperature of the pork is 75°C or 170°F

We are going to slice the pork into long strips around 2-3 inches thick so we don’t need to treat it like pulled pork.

Otherwise it would need around 8 hours altogether. If you want to shred it you need to keep in mind that it’s a much longer cook time. 

Make sure you brush your Char Siu pork every hour with the reserved marinade to keep it from drying out.

We like to use apple wood to smoke our pork – it’s a classic combination and works well. 

Rest the pork in tinfoil for 30 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute and the meat to relax.

Chinese BBQ Pork Stage 4 Slice & Serve

Slice the Chinese BBQ Pork in to strips that are roughly 2 inches thick. Try to make the pieces roughly the same size for presentation.

Serve with rice and garnish your pork with finely chopped spring onions and a scattering of sesame seeds.  

Chinese BBQ Pork – Char Siu in the Smoker

If you enjoyed this article try our ‘Smoked Shrimp with a Chinese Style Marinade.’

Or our ‘Smoker Recipes’ article.

For another great article on the topic of Chinese BBQ pork you could try here:

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