HOME-MADE CHAR SIEW

I have not been eating pork since my secondary school days.  I am not a vegetarian (as you can see from my postings on food) and I can never be one since I love seafood.  It is also not due to any religious reason but a scary story about some sort of bacteria found in pork (if not cooked properly) that my biology teacher told the class in my secondary school.  Since I trusted my teacher (and I suppose all students do), and there was no way to verify the truth of that story then (internet was not available yet), I became paranoid and kiasi (a Hokkien word meaning afraid to die).  So I stopped eating pork completely.

Many years later, I did try to eat a bit of pork again but I have somehow become very sensitive to its smell, and still don’t feel comfortable eating it.  Memory of that scary story can’t seem to go away too, even after such a long time.  So, you can imagine that my hubby has been deprived of pork at our dining table but I am trying to make a change, though not a drastic one.  I began to cook pork in recent years but only very occasionally, so that hubby can have some rare treats.  I had been able to do only two pork dishes – Lor Bak (Chinese braised pork) and Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs soup with herbs and spices).  A few months ago, I expanded my list of pork dishes a little bit by adding Char Siew onto it.  It was my third time making Char Siew yesterday, so we had Char Siew rice with braised beancurd for dinner.  I could see that hubby was satisfied with it, and of course, that made my day.

Hubby’s portion with a lot more Char Siew. 

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My Char Siew was prepared with reference to the recipe found on this website called Guai Shu Shu (click here for the recipe and instructions).

I used fresh pork fillets which are normally lean and suitable for Char Siew, according to the butcher in the Fairprice Finest outlet that I went to.  About 250g only.

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Pork was marinated with lots of ingredients as per the recipe with quantity adjusted to fit the amount of pork used.  I also used less five-spice powder and sugar but more honey, and I did not use the red fermented beancurd since that’s more for colouring effect.

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The meat was kept in the chiller for 3 days.  I took it out every day to toss it around in order to get a more even marination.

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I used a different method to cook it.  It was a two-step method which I came across somewhere on the internet.

Firstly, it was cooked in a wok, using small fire, until the gravy turned thick (see next photo), and then it was roasted

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Since I didn’t have skewers, I used bamboo sticks instead.  A cake tray lined with aluminium foil was used to hold the sticks.  The cooked meat was brushed with honey before being put into the oven.

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It was roasted at 180 degree Celsius for about 8 mins, brushed with another layer of honey, and put back in the oven for another 7 mins. 

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You would probably wonder why I put a layer of aluminium each in the baking tray and also on the chopping board (above).  That was just to make it easy for my cleaning.  Just see how dirty the base of the tray was after the Char Siew was removed.  It would be a chore to scrub the dirt off.

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The Char Siew tasted great but I would say it didn’t have the same exact taste as the Char Siew bought from stalls.  The missing reddish look did not really matter.  So, it was nice to be able to have home made Char Siew this way.

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