How to Make Homemade Char Siu (Roast Pork)
Perfecting char siu is no easy task. Chefs at your favorite ramen shops have most likely been tweaking their char siu recipe for years and are continuing to do so to this day to get the flavor profile they believe best match their ramen. While this is nothing compared to what years of practice might get you, here’s a starting off point for you to try and tweak to make your own perfect, char siu, roast pork.
Kombu (Dried Seaweed)
Leek/Green Onions (Not Pictured)
Bonito Shavings (Not Pictured)
First you’ll need to tie your pork with some cooking string so that it keeps a uniform shape for even cooking and doesn’t start falling apart in the cooking process. Begin by tying a simple knot at one end of your pork and wrapping your pork every few centimeters until you reach the end. Use the end to wrap the pork vertically and tie the loose end back to where your original knot is. This doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure it is tight enough to maintain its shape.
Put your prepared pork in to a pot and fill with water until covered. Drop in a few slices of ginger, a couple garlic cloves, and a bunch of green onions or leek. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for three hours. The pork, ginger, garlic and green onions will actually produce a nice broth so if you’d like to use it for soup, skim off any excess foam that will rise during the simmering process. This will help eliminate any bitterness to the soup. While you wait for your pork to simmer, start preparing your marinade. In a small saucepan add a cup of soy sauce and a cup of cooking sake. Bring to a boil to burn off any alcohol and add in cup of water. Throw in your dried kombu and once they have rehydrated, simmer for 3-4 minutes and take them out. Any longer and you’ll end up with a bitter aftertaste. Add half a cup of mirin, few slices of ginger and a few cloves of garlic and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
Once your pork has simmered for a few hours, add some bonito flakes to your saucepan and bring it back up to a boil. Strain the ginger, garlic and bonito shavings and add in your pork. Let the pork simmer in the marinade on low for about an hour. Once it simmers for an hour, transfer your pork and marinade in to a container and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. (Egg optional) After letting it sit in the fridge, cut off the cooking string and slice in to your desired thickness. Be sure to use a sharp knife, however, as it will be extremely tender. If you have a broiler or gas burner, sear your slices for a nice charred finish. Serve over rice with green onions or over your favorite bowl of ramen.
Again, this is a very basic recipe and can be tinkered to fit your preference. Adding in more sugars and/or mirin will give you a caramelized, sweeter char siu. Throw some chili peppers in your marinade for a spicy kick. The combination is entirely up to you and how you want to use your roast pork. I will be tinkering with this recipe and catering it for different, specific uses (Tsukemen, char siu bowls, Shoyu ramen, Shio ramen, Niboshi ramen, etc.) so be sure to check back for future recipes.
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