Chinese Barbecue Pork



Most of the marinades I make tend to have an Asian twist because I love garlic, chilli, lime and soy flavours. I guess the exception is my beef marinades which usually have a dash or three of red wine and Worchestershire sauce.


One marinade that I have been experimenting with lately is a traditional marinade that makes the well-known Chinese bbq pork (char siew). Most restaurants add red food colouring, to give it that bright red look. I try not to use food colouring so haven't used it in my version of the marinade, so my bbq pork is more of a dark honey colour.

Unusual Ingredients

Some of the ingredients used in this recipe may be hard to find, although your local Asian grocery store should have all of these. I've included substitutes for a couple of the ingredients that you may already have in your pantry to make life a bit easier. I know what it's like to buy a big bottle of something because a recipe calls for it and you only end up using a tablespoon of it... ever!


You can use honey instead of maltose; and chinese rice wine or dry sherry instead of chinese rose wine. Maltose comes in a squat, white plastic container with a red lid and has red writing on the front. Chinese rose wine is for cooking only and is salty, as opposed to sweet like most wines. I had ask a shopkeeper which was the rose wine, as the label didn't say in English, what type of wine it was (although the picture of roses on the bottle was a huge hint). The rose wine has a subtle rose fragrance, that reminds me of Turkish delight.


A must-have is the five-spice powder and hoisen sauce - these two ingredients can't really be substituted with anything else. I get my five-spice powder and hoisen sauce from my local asian grocery store, although I see that some supermarkets are stocking hoisen sauce too.

Have a read through the recipe and gather up all the ingredients that you need and let's get to the fun part - cooking!

Chinese BBQ Pork



3 Tblsp hoisen sauce
3 Tblsp soya sauce
3 Tblsp maltose or honey
3 Tblsp honey
3 Tblsp Chinese rose wine or Chinese rice wine (shao xing) or dry sherry
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp white pepper powder

500g pork loin or fillet, cut into 5cm strips
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped


  • Put all marinade ingredients into a pot and heat gently until everything is melted together and the mixture is thick.
  • Mix the garlic with the pork strips and add enough marinade to coat the meat generously
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight
  • When you are ready to cook the meat, heat the oven to 200ºC and roast the pork strips on a rack for 10 mins. Have a pan underneath the rack to catch the drips. I put a bit of water in the pan to create a bit of steam and help keep the meat moist
  • Brush some of the remaining marinade over the meat and turn your oven to grill at 230ºC and grill for 10 mins on each side. Alternatively, cook from raw on the bbq for 10 mins each side
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

  • Serving Suggestion

    • Serve as part of a Chinese meal, with rice and vegetables
    • Add to stir-fried noodles
    • Dice bbq pork finely, add more marinade and mix. Cut 10cm squares of puff pastry and put a spoonful of mixture in the middle. Wet the edges and fold the pastry in half, making a triangle. Brush some beaten egg over the top and sprinkle a few sesame seeds. Bake at 200ºC for 15 mins or until the pastry is golden brown.


    • Use the marinade with boneless chicken or nibbles
    • Unused marinade can be stored in the fridge
    • Cooked, uncut strips of Chinese bbq pork can be frozen and used as part of a quick meal. Simply thaw, cut and reheat in the microwave or put into a bowl and pop it in the rice cooker 10 mins before serving

    By Andrea Wong

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