Yummy and easy to prepare homemade Char Siu Pork with a homemade Char Siu Sauce.

Char Siu Pork is also known as Chinese style BBQ pork is famous roasted pork dish. It is featured not only by the yummy taste but also the light red color.In Chinese Char Siu is 叉烧 meaning roasted pork on certain of fork. In traditional Cantonese restaurants, the pork is hooked during the roasting process, which guarantee the uniform heating from different sides.  Homemade version can be much simplified and easier. And my homemade version is as yummy as the restaurant style.

char siu--Chinese BBQ Pork

As it is so famous outside China, I guess most of you have tested it in Cantonese restaurants. And you may wonder about how this light red color is created. In Cantonese cooking, people make their own Char Siu sauce. The main ingredients for Char Siu sauce contains oyster sauce (for more information about commonly used sauces in Chinese cooking, check Chinese Sauces), soy sauce, sugar, red onions, garlic and red fermented tofu. Red fermented tofu is quite widely used in Cantonese cuisine, either to roast pork or braise pork belly. It is fermented along with red yeast rice. In the following picture, I listed three commonly used coloring ingredients. But essentially, they are the same. Red yeast powder is grounded from red yeast rice. If you really cannot find them, skip this coloring. We are just sacrificing some coloring, no taste difference.

  • For light coloring, use red fermented tofu + some of the juice in the bottom(I know lots of you may do not like the taste of fermented tofu. If you never tasted it before, I would recommend trying one cube).
  • For middle coloring, use red yeast rice. Pre-soak the rice until soft and use the water.
  • For deep coloring, use red yeast powder directly (1/8 teaspoon is recommended) or you can resort to red food coloring.

I tried to search but failed to find where you can find red fermented tofu. If you come across with any possible sourcing, please leave a comment so we can share it with other readers. If the red one is not available, use white fermented tofu or you can skip it (just a slight difference in taste). The remaining ingredients can make your char siu enough yummy too.

red coloring for char siu pork

You can see a light red color on the edges of the slices form the picture.  I marinate the pork for around 30 hours with my homemade Char Siu sauce.

char siu--Chinese BBQ Pork

About the meat for this recipe;

In China, the most popular ingredients for char siu is pork butt, sometimes we refer it as pork shoulder. For a fatty taste, you can use pork belly.

About the BBQ sauce;

I use a very basic homemade Char Siu sauce in this recipe. In fact, we have a well made char siu sauce from Lee Kum Kee. Surely, you can use that one directly if you do not want to assemble the sauce at home.

char siu sauce

Char Siu-Chinese BBQ Pork

Yummy and simple Chinese BBQ Pork roasted with Char Siu sauce.
4.84 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Cantonese
Keyword: BBQ Pork
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 155kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 300 g pork butt , pork shoulder
  • 1 thumb ginger , sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves , sliced

Char Siu Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine , rose rice wine is the best
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 red fermented tofu with 1/2 tablespoon of the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon char siu sauce
  • sesame oil for brushing


  • Firstly poke some small holes on the pork butt so it can absorb the flavor better. Then cut into 2 cm wide and 4 cm thick long strips. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add red fermented tofu, cooking wine, honey, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and Chinese five spice. Give a big stir-fry to combine well.
  • Transfer the pork into a plastic bag and then add ginger and garlic slices. Pour the Char Siu sauce in. Squeeze extra air out and seal. Message the pork for couple of minutes and keep in fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
  • Pre-heat oven to 200 degree C (around 400 degree F)
  • Before baking, add around 1/2 tablespoon of warm water and 1/2 tablespoon of char siu sauce with 1 tablespoon of honey. Combine well.
  • Place the pork on grill and with a layered baking tray. Brush the honey water on both sides.
  • Place on middle track and back for 10 minutes. And re-brush the honey mixture on both sides again.
  • Roast again on middle track for another 10 minutes. Move the grill to up track and roast for another 2 minutes.
  • Transfer out and brush some sesame oil on surface. Cool down for 3-4 minutes and cut into slices.



The size of the pork section influences the roasting time. So try to make each section in similar sizes and turn around before re-brushing the sauce.


Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 676mg | Potassium: 293mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1.4mg

char siu--Chinese BBQ Pork

char siu--Chinese BBQ Pork

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  1. 5 stars
    Made recipe as described. Used red food coloring for color. It is delicious! Froze some of the meat and it is just as good reheated. Thank you!

  2. Yes, you can grill the barbeque. I have never tested myself but get positive answer from other readers.
    Peking duck actually use a different coating, you can check this for more information.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Elaine: I live in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Many Chinese groceries like Bestco at Brimley and Huntingwood carry Red Fermented Tofu. Some herb shops near me carry red yeast tablets. Can they be used too once they are crushed?

    I love your site and am slowly working my way through your recipes that look good for day to day cooking.


    1. Thank you, Andrew for such a lovely comment. Yes, red yeast tablet can be used as a coloring agent after crushed.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Elaine:

        I would like to give an update. Bestco also carries red yeast rice in the dried medicinal herbs section. Keep up the good work.

        Thank you,


  4. I dont understand what you mean by ‘roast’ is it different from baking at 200 degree Celsius? Or does it mean that i need to utilize the ‘grill’ function of an oven

    1. Hi Holo,
      This is no need to use grill function. In most cases, we say we bake the bakery and roast the meats. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Happy cooking!

  5. I meant to add a suggestion for sources. There is a new (at least to me) mail-order internet business called Weee! that specializes in east and south asian (and some hispanic) foodstuffs at sayweee.com. I believe they operate out of New Jersey. They have at least two brands of the red fermented bean curd. And a lot of other things. I think their pricing is competitive with the other internet shopping sites where one can get such things.

  6. due to stomache issues with oyster sauce..anything i can replace it with..??..bar b Cue lean pork was always a app. waiting for our meal..been years and years canwait to try my own..ty..huggzz

    1. Hi, Gail
      You can skip the oyster sauce and double the amount of sugar and soy sauce to achieve the same effect.

  7. Is the red fermented tofu used for coloring only. If it’s not used will it effect the flavor of the char soup?