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Char Siu

It is spring here in the mountains so I planned to smoke some pork. Typical of the mountains, it got cold and snowed. Sigh.  Oh well, us Canadians are tough and I went ahead and smoked Char Siu Pork, pork shoulder marinated and smoked.

The recipe for this is at the end of the post.

Char Siu is usually made from a full pork butt cut into long strips about  inches around. Unfortunately, we usually get our pork shoulder in boneless roasts that make cutting it into strips impractical so I cut mine into 2 by 3 inch chunks.

Char Siu 01

I mixed up the marinade and added the pork. I covered it and marinated over night, stirring occasionally.

Char Siu 02

The next day I fired up my smoker to 300 F with pecan smoke and put the pork on.

Char Siu 07

I cooked the pork until the internal temperature was 110 F, about 25 minutes. Then I turned the pork.

Char Siu 03

I continued smoking until the internal temperature was 170 F, about another 20 minutes. I took the pork off and covered it with foil for 10 minutes to rest.

Char Siu 04

I cooked vegetable chow mein while it was resting but that is another post!

Char Siu 14

The Verdict

This is so delicious and so easy. There is a nice sweet glaze on the pork and the five spice adds a nice licorice undertone. I love this.

The Old Fat Guy


A video of me making this is included in episode 6 of my community TV program, You Can Make It! See below!

Char Siu Pork

Yield: 8 servings

Char Siu Pork


  • 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) boneless pork shoulder
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) soy sauce
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) hoisin
  • 3 ml (½ teaspoon) five spice
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sriracha (could substitute 3 ml (1/2 teaspoon) hot pepper sauce)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) red food colouring


  1. Cut pork into 2 by 3 inch cubes.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl until sugar is dissolved and add pork.
  3. Cover and marinate overnight, stirring occasionally.
  4. Put in a 300 F smoker until internal temperature reaches 110 F, about 25 minutes.
  5. Turn pork and continue to smoke until internal temperature reaches 170 F, about 20 minutes.
  6. Cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  7. This recipe can be done in the oven by putting the pork on a rack over a cooking sheet and cooking the pork in a 350 F oven until the internal temperature is 170 F (about 40 minutes) but it will not have a smoky taste.
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54 Responses

  1. Sounds fabulous David, you know what we are like for a good pork dish, will be trying this one if I can get hold of sriracha, I’m not sure what that is but next time I go to a Chinese food shop I’ll see if I can get some. Best wishes Lindsey x

    1. Sriracha is a specific brand of Asian Chili sauce people have gone crazy for over here. You can substitute any hot pepper sauce, just use 1/2 the amount.

  2. Looks like another winner David. I’ll have to pin this one when I get home from work and give it a try. Thanks Lindsey, because I didn’t know what Sriracha was either.

    1. Thanks, Sam. Obviously, I better put an equivalent for Sriracha in the recipe if two foodies like you and Lindsey don’t know of it.

  3. I can’t wait to try this recipe at home, David! It’s finally warming up where I live in New Hampshire so we uncovered the smoker last weekend and cooked up a bunch of pork butt and ribs. Yay to warmer weather and smoking! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karrie. However, if you really wanted to thank me, you would have invited me for the butt and ribs!

      The Old Fat Guy

      1. This looks really yum – I have a pork roast in the freezer and will give this recipe a go when it’s defrosted. I have Fast Eddy Cookshack smoker and it has been awhile since I fired it up!
        Thanks Dave.

          1. I use a small amount of char siu and chop it into very tiny pieces to put inside a wonton wraps with chopped onion and a couple of drops of soy sauce to make fried wontons. I like this better than most wonton stuffings and my family inhales these little fried jewels. Thanks for the recipe. (In the past I’ve had to use a packaged char siu preparation, but it is difficult to find these days.)

  4. I made this yesterday. Holy smokes!!!! I can’t believe how good this is! I followed your recipe to the letter and I’m so glad that I did. I will definitely check out your other recipes. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. Five Spice powder can be purchased in your local grocery store in the oriental section. If your store doesn’t have an oriental section, try the spice section. Penzys also has it and can order it on line.

    1. Yes, you could do it in an oven. I would increase the temperature to 350 F for the oven and I would cook it for about 20 minutes and then turn and cook for 20 minutes longer. Make sure the internal temperature is over 160 F. It will be very tasty but there will be no smoke overtones.

      You could also do it over medium heat on a grill but watch it, the marinade can blacken easily. Turn it often.

        1. I don’t care for liquid smoke my self but if you like it go for it. I think the recipe would turn out almost as well if you cooked the pork in a low oven instead of a smoker even without the liquid smoke.

  5. Can I take sugar out replace with 1/4 cup of honey and add 1/4 cup of Shaoxing (cooking wine). Maybe even cook a little then use as the pork marinade

  6. I realize that the ‘carmelized’ sugar ingredient is crucial to the char siu flavor, but could blue agave work also?

    1. Any sweetener that has sugars that will give some browning but I doubt it would be the same flavour.

    1. Absolutely. Put the pork on a rack over a roasting tray and cook it in a 300 F oven for about 45 minutes. It won’t have the smokiness but will still have that wonderful glaze.

  7. This is such a tasty sounding recipe David, I’m here in the UK and, apart from the ones you see hanging around outside pubs, Smokers have the equivalent availability of Rocking Horse brain, so it’s wonderful that you have put up so many alternative methods to achieve the same result. Thank you.
    How strong is this specialist sauce you buy – on a scale of 1. ‘Well that’s straight to the nursery’ to 10. ‘Ooh that’s warm, quick pass me a river’. Is it a variety of chilli derivative? So many questions…

    1. Har! Thanks so much but I know for a fact that there are smokers in the UK! As for the Sriracha sauce, it is about a 7 and is an Asian Chili Sauce. You can replace it with 1/2 the amount of Tabasco.

    1. Absolutely. Just marinate the pork overnight and then cook it in the oven at 350 F for about 45 minutes, turning it once. You will want to make sure the internal temperature is about 170 F or cut into one to make sure it is done to your liking.

  8. Just made it, the family loved it! Cooked it in the oven since it’s raining like heck today, turned out perfect. Didn’t change a thing in the recipe

  9. Sriracha was called Korean Ketchup where I grew up…. Anyway i made 10 lbs of this for a baby shower, I also used a pork loin and cut it into strips and used the marinade. They were both fabulous! The pork loin does not take as long to cook so if you try this watch it closely. I sliced the meat and served it with several tasty dipping sauces. Hot mustard with sesame seeds seemed to be the fav…

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