(also spelled chashao
, cha siu
and char siew
), otherwise known as barbecued pork
in China or Chinese barbecued/roast pork
outside China, is a popular way to prepare pork
in Cantonese cuisine
. It is classified as a type of siu mei
, Cantonese roasted meat dishes.
"Char siu" literally means "fork burn/roast" after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire.
The meat, typically a shoulder cut, is seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, fermented tofu, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, red food colouring (optional) and sherry or rice wine (optional). These seasonings turn the exterior layer of meat dark red, similar to the "smoke ring" of American barbecues. Maltose may be used to give char siu its characteristic shiny glaze.
Char siu is typically consumed alongside a starch, whether inside a bun (cha siu baau), with noodles, or with rice (cha siu fan). The accompaniments served with char siu are strongly influenced by regional variation.
In Hong Kong
, char siu is usually purchased from a siu mei
establishment, which specializes in meat dishes — char siu
, soy sauce chicken
, white cut chicken
, roasted goose
, etc. These shops usually display the merchandise by hanging them in the window. As a result, char siu
is often consumed alongside one of these other meat dishes.
, char siew rice
is found in many Chinese shāo là
(烧腊) stalls along with roasted duck and roasted pork. It is served with slices of char siu, cucumbers
, white rice and drenched in sweet gravy or drizzled with dark soy sauce
. Char siew rice can also be found in Hainanese chicken rice
stalls, where customers have a choice of having their char siew rice served with plain white rice or chicken-flavoured rice, and the same choice of garlic chilli and soy sauces.
Chāshū, despite its literal meaning of "fork roasted", is browned first then simmered, resulting in a softer, moister texture that better complements typical accompaniments such as ramen than roasting would. Chāshū is typically seasoned with honey and soy sauce like its Chinese counterpart, but without the red food colouring, sugar and five-spice powder.