Instant Pot Char Siu makes it possible to make this Chinese BBQ Pork in a fraction of the time of the classic recipe.
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Char siu is delicious on its own or as a filling for Chinese steamed buns. The dish offers the perfect balance of salty and sweet flavors. And the meat, ideally, is tender and succulent.
This Instant Pot char siu recipe uses a combination of the pressure cooker and oven to make the pork tender and give it that trademark sticky-sweet glaze.
Take a walk through Chinatown and you’ll see this type of BBQ pork—bright red and glistening with fatty goodness–hanging in shop windows. With its bright red color, you can’t miss it.
Char siu is succulent, tender, sweet, and savory. You can make it with pork belly, pork shoulder or butt, or pork loin.
Whichever cut you use, you can slice it thinly and serve it over rice. Or toss it in a sweet-savory hoisin-based sauce and use it as a filling for steamed buns or Char Siu Bao.
What makes Chinese BBQ pork red?
Traditionally, the red color of the pork comes from red fermented bean curd or tofu, but many contemporary cooks use red food coloring.
You can also use beet juice, or even cherry juice for coloring.
Note that the pork in the photos was cooked with red food coloring. If you use fermented bean curd, you will get more of a reddish-brown color.
Fermented tofu is sold in jars and you can find it in Chinese or Asian markets or order it online.
How to make Instant pot char siu pork
This char siu recipe is easy to make. Most of the time required is just marinating time.
- Mix up the marinade ingredients (or use char siu sauce) and marinate the pork, ideally overnight.
- Pressure cook the pork using the reserved marinade as the liquid until it is tender. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can braise the meat on the stovetop.
- Brush a soy-sauce-and-honey glaze on the pork and bake it in the oven, or cook it on a grill, until the glaze is sticky and blackened in places.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.
What is char siu sauce?
Char siu sauce is a savory-sweet Cantonese barbecue sauce made of hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine (or another cooking wine), five-spice powder, and often molasses and/or maltose. Marinate the pork in this mixture to infuse it with flavor.
You can make your own char siu sauce from scratch, or you can buy char siu sauce in jars in an Asian market or online.
How to serve this chinese bbq pork
For a simple meal, serve this char siu pork sliced over steamed white rice with sautéed or steamed vegetables. I like broccoli, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), or bok choy.
For the pork
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Shiaoxing wine (or use sake, dry sherry, or dry white wine)
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cubes red fermented tofu, mashed, plus 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the jar (optional, see note)
- ¾ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 ½ pounds boneless pork butt
For the glaze
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- In a large bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, wine, hoisin sauce,
sesame oil, garlic, fermented tofu, if using, and five-spice and stir to mix.
- Add the pork and turn a few times to coat all sides well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Pour the marinade into the Instant Pot and then put the trivet in. Place the pork on top of the trivet.
- Close the pot and turn the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then quick release the remaining pressure.
- Remove the pork from the pressure cooker.
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
- Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack on top. Put the pork on top of the rack.
- To make the glaze, in a small bowl, stir together the soy
sauce and honey. Brush the mixture on the pork.
- Cook the pork in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the pork over, brush more of the glaze on it, and cook for another 4 minutes or so.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before slicing.
If you don't want to use fermented tofu, you can color the marinade with a few drops of red gel food coloring. Or you can try using other more natural coloring methods like adding cherry or beet juice.