I cherish every part of the pig, but one of my favorite cuts to cook with and eat are the cheeks. There's no other part of the pig that can beat the beautiful marbled fat in-between the pink strands of meat. When the cheeks are slow roasted and cooked at a low temperature, the texture of the meat is incredibly tender and gelatinous, glistening of fat.
I've made a few attempts to recreate Chinese-style barbecue pork (char siu/xa xiu) and finally nailed down a recipe that left us satisfied and wanting more. While there are many ways to eat this, we enjoy it best with mustard greens and jasmine white rice, garlic butter noodles or as a banh mi sandwich. Here's a recipe that tastes just as good as the pork that you see hanging in front of the windows at the Chinese butcher shops.
Chinese BBQ Pork (Thit Xa Xiu/Char Siu) Recipe
Serves 2 to 3 people
Time: 30 minutes (prep), 2 days (inactive), 1 hour (cooking)
- 1 to 2 lb of skinless pork cheeks
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/3 cup fermented red bean curd cubes
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well to make the marinade. Be sure to taste it to preference.
- Lightly massage the marinade into pork cheeks until well covered. Let the pork marinade fat side up in the fridge for two days.
- When ready to roast, set the oven to 350 F, line the pan with aluminum foil and bake the pork on a wired rack for about 1 hour covered in aluminum foil until a fork can piece through the meat easily.
- To char the pork, remove the aluminum cover completely and turn the oven up to 400 F for about less than 5 minutes per side, watching carefully so that the meat doesn't burn from the marinade.