Chinese-style BBQ pork ribs, also known as char siu, are a popular dish that can be found in Chinese restaurants all over the world. This succulent dish features tender pork ribs coated in a sweet and savoury glaze. It’s a real favourite of meat lovers!
History of Chinese-style BBQ pork ribs
The origins of char siu (of which this recipe is a modern interpretation) can be traced back to ancient China. It was originally known as cha shao, which means “fork roasted.” Char siu was traditionally made by skewering seasoned pork strips with long forks and roasting them over an open flame. The resulting dish was smoky and tender, with a slightly caramelized exterior.
Over time, the dish evolved, and new techniques were developed to make char siu more accessible and easier to prepare. Today, char siu can be found in many different variations. These range from traditional fork-roasted pork to more modern interpretations that use oven roasting or even sous vide cooking methods.
Versions and variations
The traditional method of making char siu involves marinating pork strips for several hours. The pork is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and other seasonings. It is then skewered and roasted over an open flame until cooked through, with a slightly charred exterior.
Another popular variation of char siu involves using a pre-made char siu sauce. This can be found at most Asian grocery stores. This sauce is typically made from a combination of soy sauce, honey, hoisin sauce, and other spices. You can use it to marinate pork ribs or other cuts of pork.
More modern interpretations of char siu may use different cooking methods, such as oven roasting or even sous vide cooking. In these methods, the pork is marinated in the traditional char siu sauce or a variation of it, then cooked at a low temperature for an extended period. This ensures tenderness and flavour.
My Chinese-style BBQ pork ribs recipe diverges from more traditional methods. In this recipe, I brown the ribs, before roasting them at a moderate heat.
Instead of pork ribs, you can use other cuts of pork to make char siu, such as pork belly. Or, you could even use chicken. Some chefs add a touch of spice to their char siu sauce to give it an extra kick.
Chinese-style BBQ pork ribs, or char siu, is a beloved dish that has a long history in China. This sweet and savoury dish has evolved over time, with new cooking techniques and variations that make it accessible to people all over the world. Whether you prefer traditional fork-roasted pork or a more modern sous vide version, char siu is a delicious and satisfying dish that is sure to please any meat lover.
Hungry for more information about traditional char siu? Head on over to this Wikipedia page.
I’m a big fan of BBQ pork ribs, and there are many ways to make them taste delicious. Hijacking and modifying traditional char siu recipes is just one of them!
This recipe combines some of my favourite flavours and these ribs are sweet, sour, spicy, tangy and delicious. I actually based this around a Gordon Ramsay recipe I once saw on Channel 4. Though I’ve changed it a little, it is more or less his. So, let me say “thanks Gordon!” for the inspiration.
Personally, I could eat all of these ribs in one sitting (especially with a few beers to wash them down). If you’re less of a greedy rib-fiend than I am, this recipe will serve 4 people.
Spicy, Chinese-style BBQ pork ribs
- 1 kg pork ribs
- 1 tbsp groundnut oil vegetable or sunflower oil is OK
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 150 ml Shaoxing rice wine dry sherry is OK if you don’t have it
- 6 tbsps honey use runny honey
- 3 tbsps dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsps light soy sauce
- 2 tbsps rice vinegar
- 2 tsps Chinese five spice powder
- 2 star anise whole, dried flower
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 chilli peppers hot, red or green
- 30 g fresh ginger thumb-sized piece, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 spring onions sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves only, chopped
- black pepper to season
- Heat a large oven dish over a high-heat and add the oil, covering the pan evenly
- add the ribs, sealing and browning them on all sides and slightly caramelising them
- drizzle the honey over the ribs and turn them again
- add the garlic, chopped chilli, ginger, rosemary and spring onions, and pour over the Shaoxing rice wine
- boil for a minute or two, then turn the heat down to medium, and pour over the chicken stock
- add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese five spice, chilli flakes and star anise. Season with a little ground black pepper, and let the mix simmer for around 20 – 30 minutes, reducing the liquid by about a third, turning your ribs and spooning the liquid over them from time to time
- heat your oven to 180 C (gas mark 4)
- place the ribs in the preheated oven and cook for around 1 hour, turning half way through
- once cooked, serve the ribs, pouring the cooking sauce over them. Tip – you may need to reduce the cooking sauce a little further before serving