Char Sui (Chinese BBQ Pork)

I’m flying in at the last minute here with this month’s Movies and Munchies!  April just got away from me again!  It was a wild month!

This month, Kelley from Simply Inspired Meals invited us to watch Jungle Cruise!  The kids and I saw this one in theaters and loved it, so I was eager to watch it again.

There are a couple food moments in the movie, especially toward the beginning.  But ultimately, the setting provides the most inspiration.  The setting was mostly in Brazil and I almost went with that.  But then, I remembered that the movie was based on the Jungle Cruise ride in the Disney parks.

A quick google search revealed the menu from the Skipper Canteen, a Jungle Cruise themed restaurant in Disney World.  Since  the restaurant was named for the skipper, Frank, I was immediately drawn toward the Hardy Har Char Siu on the menu.  Frank, played by Dwayne Johnson (the Rock), is a wise cracking skipper, full of puns throughout the movie.  The punny name had me immediately researching Char Siu recipes.

Now, a traditional Char Siu is very red in appearance. The most traditional recipes rely on red bean paste and spices to achieve this look (neither of which were readily available in my location).  Modern (Americanized?) recipes rely on red food dye for this appearance.  I chose to keep the flavor profile, but omit the food dye.  My pork is inarguably brown, but I prefer it that way.  As a cake decorator, I’m not one to shy away from food dyes, yet, it feels different as a decoration (that can easily be scraped off) than as a vain addition to a main dish.

Regardless of the color difference, the Char Siu was delicious and enjoyed by all around the dinner table! And yes, that is a conquistador in my picture (when one lives with 3 men, sometimes you come home from estate sales with clearance conquistadors that then take up residence on your piano!)

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Adapted from The Woks of Life

2 ½ pounds pork (I used Pork Sirloin Chops)

¼ cup white sugar

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 ½ tablespoon lite soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon garlic bean paste

2 teaspoons molasses

½ teaspoon sesame oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

Place the pork in a zipper bag.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Remove 2 tablespoons of the marinade and set aside.  Pour the remaining marinade over the pork.  Seal the bag and flip to coat.  Place the marinating pork and reserved marinade in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight to marinate.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place a cooling rack onto top of a rimmed baking sheet.  Add 1 cup of water to the baking sheet (this will keep drippings from burning).  

Place the marinated pork on the rack and bake for 10 minutes.  Brush some of the reserved marinate onto the pork (if the marinade is too thick, thin it with a tablespoon of hot water).  Continue baking and basting with marinade every 10 minutes until the pork is done and marinate is gone, about 30 minutes.

Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.


  1. We love Char Sui here but I cheat and buy the sauce premade. Anxious to try your homemade version.

  2. I have never made char siu, but I went with a roasted pork, too, for this event. I can't wait to try your recipe, Amy.

  3. I have never made char siu, but I can't wait to try your version. I also posted a pork recipe for this event...for a very different reason. That's one of the things I love most about these groups - a variety of inspiration.