Thursday, August 16, 2007

AMC Cha Shao (BBQ Pork)

This was made using an AMC pot, so there wasn't enough charring.

Last year Wey had this obsession with cha shao from a friend's shop. He ate Ken's cha shao (Ken runs Kedai New Soon Fatt, the only coffeeshop opened at night in the single row of shops in front of the Baptist Church at the entrance to Austral Park, or just before Raya Court/Central Plaza) almost every other day for months! I have to agree that Ken makes KK's best restaurant cha shao although I find the meat a little tough sometimes and sauce too sweet. Ken's cha shao is cooked in a steel drum, over hot charcoals and the intense heat just sizzles up the outside to a nice crispy soyey BBQ taste (sometimes too burnt, but you can tell him to trim it off) while the meat is still moist inside. Another thing I like about Ken's cha shao is the color. He uses a lot of dark soy sauce while other places use red coloring, another no-no for me. I find Foo Chow cha shao especially unappealing because it's so red and dry (meat too lean).

Thanks to my friend Liz who came to my rescue by giving me this recipe. She has also agreed to let me share it. It's so easy, no chopping garlic or onions or other unnecessary additions. Aren't you lucky!

AMC Cha Shao

2 kg pork shoulder, with some fat but no skin
7 T light soy sauce
2 T dark soy sauce (I've increased by 1 T for color)
4 T fine sugar
1 T sao xin wine
1/2 T oyster sauce

1. Ask your friendly butcher to cut pork shoulder for cha sao. It should be in long 2" thick strips. (In KK, The Singing Brothers at the Dah Yeh shops are the best pork butchers).

2. Mix everything together really well and leave in fridge at least 3 hours (Liz advises to marinade overnight but I find it's not necessary) .

3.Edit: You can cook the pork in three ways:

a) Using oven

Preheat oven at 220 C. Put the pork into the oven (on rack with tray underneath) without the marinade sauce. Lower heat if pork begins to burn too early. There's no need to turn the pork but you can do it once or so. After 30-40 min, pork should be done. Take one piece out and cut. If it's still pink or not tender enough, give it another 5 to 10 min. Turn heat up if pork looks pale. It should be slightly burnt. Meanwhile, cook the marinade sauce in a small pot, stirring, till sauce is thickened. Skim off oil.

b) Turbo fan pot

The turbo fan pot will give a more juicy cha sao because the pot is small and the heat can go very high, so it cooks the pork quickly, preventing the 'juice' or liquid from coming out of the pork. Test pork after 25-30 min to see if it's cooked.

c) Using AMC or heavy base pot

Put pork and the marinade sauce into unheated pot. Put heat on to low. After 10 to 15 min, there will be more liquid in the pot as pork gives out liquid. Stir once in a while to prevent pork from sticking to bottom of the pot. You can turn heat up to medium when there's more liquid. After 40 min or so, test the pork with a fork to see if it's tender. If it is, take it out. If the sauce is watery at this point, turn heat up very high, pot uncovered, and reduce sauce till it's thickened but be careful not to burn it. If the pork looks pale, put it back into the pot when the sauce has thickened, or you can pour the thickened sauce into a bowl, then put the pork back into the pot to sear and burn slightly the fat and outer surface to give it that BBQ look.

The original recipe called for honey to be added to the cooked pork but I find it sweet enough without the honey.

4. Slice cooled cha sao and serve sauce separately. Eat with white rice, some greens and a light soup. You'll thank me. And Liz.


Shan said...

Droool! Thanks for the butcher recommendation. I was just going to ask you that. Not exactly sure 100% where it is but I'll doublecheck with friends.

raina said...

The cha sao looks very good. Which brand of light and dark soy sauce do you use? What is pork shoulder in Hakka?

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

shan: 3 bros on the left hand corner of d shops. they always whistle or sing when they work. their pork is VERY fresh (2 shifts, one early morning n one for ppl k=like me at 10:30 am)n they really cut very well n they never cheat on weight.

raina: it's 'gup sim tiew' but just tell d bros what u want it for n they'll cut it to size. make sure not too lean. i use Kikkoman for light n Pearl River Mushroom/Lee Kum Kee Selected Dark.

ronny said...

between the posts on women and food, this blog is turning into a real college-guy heaven. or torture, depending on your point of view.

thank you and hy very much for the shorts and the UFO! they are exactly what i would've gotten for myself. you guys really shouldn't have taken the trouble and i appreciate it greatly.

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

haha ronnie, u always make me smile!bought 2 pairs of chinese char. shorts in Shenzen; ming has d other. Yi bought d UFO in HK, carried back by hand n grabbed it back fm her brothers who said she was mean not to think of them too!

Anonymous said...

Porkilicious - my favourites, I shall soon visit again :p


Terri @ hungerhunger said...

Icchan: d pork man!in HK, we were in a restaurant tt served pork oil/lard mixed into hot plain rice. my friend swore it tastes great. wish i tried it.

Anonymous said...

my boys did not think it tasted that much like cha shao but i guess i have not used the recommended soy sauces, will try the recommended brands next time. color did not turn out to be as nice as advertised!Voon.

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

voon:as i told u last nite, if y use d pot, then put d pork and the marinade sauce all into d pot and cook under low heat so that it will not burn or dry out. After about 40 min, if d sauce is watery, turn d heat up high so tt sauce will thicken. depending on d condition of d pork then (if it is too soft by then), u may need to take it out of d pot while boiling/thickening d sauce or u can also leave it in but be careful tt it doesn't burn.

if u r using d turbo pot, u cannot add d marinade together with d pork bc there's no tray to catch the sauce so u have to cook d sauce in a small pot till it's thick. i hope u'll try again n see if darren likes it. if not, i'll come personally to cook it for u guys!

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

Voon: u're right. i only mentioned not to put in the marinade sauce if u are using turbo oven but did not tell to put d marinade sauce into the pot if using a heavy base pot,! sorry...i've edited the recipe method. hope ur next try will be perfect!

raina said...

Is the offer to come over to cook extended to my family too? :)

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

sure but u can do it w/o me; i'm sure u're better than vms (haha, is to lure her to reply)!

voon said...

hi pals, before i cud try again, when we sat down for dinner last nite, my maid was serving cha shao!!! don't know wat composition of sauces she used, though she saw me cooking she did not see me prepare the meat. it turned out quite similar but more aromatic than mine!! reaffirming the boys'claim that she is a better cook than me, well, u know wat, i am going to try again but maybe adding some honey to sweeten it up, oh, i just bought nam yuk and will try shao yuk tonite,

june said...


I tried your recipe, except I used pork loin and rice wine instead of shaoxing wine (I had to make do with what I had available before my next shopping in Chinatown here in Manila). It tasted pretty ok, but it's still far from being considered char siew. more work to be done.:p

One question though. I used the AMC pot for cooking. Do you leave the entire thing uncovered the whole time? Because that's what I did. Not sure if I did correct. but the pork seemed to cook fast even under low heat and the sauce dried up pretty fast when i placed it in medium heat. or maybe because it was pork loin...hmmm...

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

june: frm manila eh?! wow. mabuhay (sp?). ok, pork loin is no-no for cha shao bc it is too lean. use shoulder which has both lean n fat yet not as tough as belly. u must cover ur amc pot bc u don't add water n u want to keep the liquid tt comes out frm the meat during the cooking time so the sauce won't dry up. if, after the pork is done, there's still a lot of sauce/liquid. u have to raise the heat, take off the pot cover and reduce the sauce until it is thick. do try it again, or ask me whatever u need to know.

june said...

Hello again!

Did the char siew again as you instructed and used shaoxing wine this time as the recipe asked. Turned out pretty good. Thanks.:) The texture looks like char siew, though it really looks like roast pork than the char siew that we're used to looking at, the red and purplish pink ones we have here and in HK. But this recipe's definitely a keeper.:)

One question-- you mentioned that the original recipe called for honey... how much honey should be added, and should it be added during marination? I'm planning to add my next batch with honey. Just to taste the difference.:)

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