Thursday, August 16, 2007
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.