You can make char siu with pork neck (which the Chinese butcher pointed out to me when I asked him for “char siu”), pork shoulder/butt, or pork belly. Ryan has surpassed me in fat kid impulses so I went with the pork belly, from Paisano’s in Boerum Hill. And also, because it’s the most delicious.
I cobbled together a few marinade recipes, as I didn’t have a couple of ingredients from each of them – maltose, brandy, hoisin sauce. So my marinade consisted of 1/4 c ketchup, 1 c sugar, 1/4 c honey, 2-3 cubes of spicy fermented bean curd, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp Chinese five spice powder, soy sauce, and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). I whisked everything together and poured it over my pork belly. The butcher gave it to me in a long strip but one of the recipes said to cut it into 1-inch wide pieces, so I did. More surface area for marinating. Also the skin came on it and was stubbled with short black hairs. The IB-S Bio student in me kicked in, and I tried to pluck them all out before calling Ryan at work to confirm that I was creating more work for myself.
So take the skin off before marinating. Hold it up at one end and make a small cut just under the skin, where it meets the fat. Then you basically shave it off with a sharp knife. The skin is tough, but be careful you don’t slice your hand open. And try to only take off the skin, not any of that good fat.
Marinate it overnight, then when you’re ready to cook it place it in a roasting pan on a rack and roast for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, then 20 minutes at 300 degrees.
You can then eat this as is with rice and sauteed garlic-bokchoy (my favorite), in char siu bao (also fairly easy to make, and you can freeze them to steam later), or in this dry wonton mee that I made, which is a Malaysian dish.
It’s basically cooked wonton noodles, a little broth, some soy sauce, bok choy, and the char siu. Which turned out awesome, by the way – sticky, salty, fatty, and sweet.
For the broth, I boiled some leftover ribs with shallots, garlic, anise, fish sauce, and white peppercorns. To serve – wonton noodles in a bowl, topped with a tiny bit of broth and soy sauce to keep it wet. Add bok choy and sliced char siu. I added some Thai chiles that I’d pickled the previous night, which were still spicy as hell but it was super deliciouuuusss.
P.S. I didn’t really use a recipe for this. I just saw a photo that looked delicious, Googled a few recipes, then said “F it” and used the photo as inspiration.