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Pork tenderloin Chinese recipe


DSC_0002While I was growing up in the Catskills, the first time I saw this Chinese roast pork [“cha siu” (Cantonese) and sometimes spelled char siu / “cha shao” (mandarin)] was at the Holiday Inn, of all places. My father, the head chef at the time, used lean boneless pork loin since the mostly western patrons preferred it, and lots of garlic and spices. As time passed, I’ve seen more fatty cuts of pork used, like pork shoulder at many restaurants, especially those that cater to Chinese patrons. The flavor of Chinese roast pork also seemed to get slightly sweeter over time, as I tried more versions in Chinatown’s noodle shops and roast meat restaurants. This salty/sweet contrast, coupled with a more fatty cut of pork results in tasty version commonly found today in Chinatowns and Cantonese restaurants around the world, and in this recipe! The best part is, once you make this yourself, you won’t have to go out to the Chinese grocery or restaurant to get it.DSC_0006 Here’s what you need:

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder/pork butt (Select a cut with some good fat on it)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or Chinese plum wine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon hot water

Cut the pork into long strips about 3 inches thick. Don’t trim any excess fat as it will render off and also give you more good flavor. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the BBQ sauce. Reserve about 2 tablespoons and pour the rest into a large zip top bag along with the pork. Make sure the pork is coated with the sauce, squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal it. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Store the reserved sauce for later as well.

In my parent’s restaurant, we had a large standing roasting oven the size of a narrow refrigerator, where the pork could hang from these large S-shaped hooks and roast evenly at very high temperatures. To simulate this at home, preheat your oven to the highest setting (at least 475 degrees). Then line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal rack on top.

Using the metal rack keeps the pork off of the pan and allows it to roast more evenly, like it does in commercial ovens described above. Place the pork on the racks, leaving as much space as possible between pieces, and put the pan in the upper portion of the oven. Pour the rest of the marinade from the bag into a bowl for basting.

After 25 minutes or so, flip the pork and baste with some of the marinating liquid. If needed, add a half cup of water to the bottom of the sheet pan to prevent burning or smoking from the drippings. If you have a leaner cut of meat, you may want to add some water at the beginning of the roasting process, baste more often and/or lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees . After another 25-30 minutes, turn on the broiler to crisp the outside and add some color/flavor.DSC_0021 Be sure not to walk away during this process, since the sweet BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended. Take out of the oven and use a clean basting brush to brush the roasted pork with those last couple tablespoons of reserved BBQ sauce. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes and enjoy! Use it in place of ham in our super easy fried rice recipe. Or try slicing it up and putting it in a sandwich: This was a bar sandwich we made up in the Catskills for the late night resort crowd while I was working as the night shift line cook at the Holiday Inn restaurant and bar. Meals at Catskill resorts were pretty regimented, and a good late night snack after a game of cards or a night of horse racing at the Monticello Raceway wasn’t easy to find. Run two cloves of garlic through a press (or mince really finely), and stir together with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the mixture onto both halves of a roll or baguette and toast it lightly. Sprinkle on some sea salt if desired, and top with some of the sliced pork. Or, you can also make Chinese BBQ Pork Buns, which we’re going to post in a couple days! Look out for that one next.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder/pork butt
  • ½ teaspoon five spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork into long strips about 3 inches thick. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the BBQ sauce. Reserve about 2 tablespoons and pour the rest into a large zip top bag along with the pork. Make sure the pork is coated with the sauce, squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal it. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Store the reserved sauce for later as well.
  2. In my parent’s restaurant, we had a large standing roasting oven the size of a narrow refrigerator, where the pork could hang from these large S-shaped hooks and roast evenly at very high temperatures. To simulate this at home, preheat your oven to the highest setting (at least 475 degrees). Then line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal rack on top.
  3. Using the metal rack keeps the pork off of the pan and allows it to roast more evenly, like it does in commercial ovens described above. Place the pork on the racks, leaving as much space as possible between pieces, and put the pan in the upper portion of the oven. Pour the rest of the marinade from the bag into a bowl for basting.
  4. After 25 minutes or so, flip the pork and baste with some of the marinating liquid. If needed, add a half cup of water to the bottom of the sheet pan to prevent burning or smoking from the drippings. After another 25-30 minutes, turn on the broiler to crisp the outside and add some color/flavor. Be sure not to walk away during this process, since the sweet BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended.
  5. Take out of the oven and use a clean basting brush to brush the roasted pork with those last couple tablespoons of reserved BBQ sauce. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes and enjoy!
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