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Chinese barbecue: 7 simple, delicious recipes

7 simple, delicious Chinese-inspired barbecue recipes

by Great British Chefs 02 August 2019

Barbecue is a big part of daily life in China, but you can easily recreate classic Chinese barbecue from the comfort of your back garden! Take a look at the Chinese barbecue recipes we always turn to when we’re in need.

We’ve all walked past a Chinese restaurant and been stopped in our tracks by the heavenly smell of roast meat wafting from the front door. Humans have a deep-rooted, intrinsic connection with barbecue – it is, after all, the oldest form of cookery – but few cultures on Earth do barbecue like the Chinese; classic flavours like soy sauce, oyster sauce, chilli and garlic all marry beautifully with barbecued meat, fish and vegetables – charring and caramelising under the intense heat of the barbecue to create deep and complex flavours.

Barbecue in China doesn't necessarily mean food that's cooked over fire. It can be anything from simple skewers of grilled meat to something like Peking duck, which is blanched, marinated, dried and smoked before finally being roasted in a screaming hot oven. The latter is quite an ordeal to take on in your home kitchen, but there are plenty of other easier, quicker recipes you can easily recreate on the barbecue if you want to serve up a Chinese-inspired barbecued feast for the ages. With a vast array of ready-made Chinese sauces, marinades and condiments to choose from produced by brands such as Lee Kum Kee, it's easy to add bags of flavour to whatever you're cooking with minimal hassle. We’ve pulled together seven of our favourite Chinese barbecue recipes for you – the ones we always want to eat when we’re firing up the barbecue – but check out our full collection of Chinese recipes if you’re after more inspiration.

Grilled corn with chilli oil-infused butter

Michael Bremner revisits that old favourite of barbecue vegetables – corn on the cob – and takes it to the next level with a clever chilli oil, lime and coriander butter which he slathers over the corn before grilling it on the barbecue. To make the butter, he first infuses it with silken strands from the corn, before straining and combining with the rest of the ingredients. Try it – it’ll change your corn habits forever.

Grilled scallops with oyster sauce and sesame

This barbecued scallop is so simple to prepare, you won’t believe how delicious it is! The key of course is to get the freshest scallops you can – you’ll likely have to order scallops in their shells from your fishmonger. From there, you want to preserve all that amazing sweet flavour without adding too much; prepare your scallops carefully, then brush them with a glaze made from garlic, ginger, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Cooking in the shell helps to keep all the flavour in the shell, rather than losing anything to the barbecue. This is the perfect way to start a Chinese barbecue feast!

Chilli garlic pork and courgette skewers

Skewers of meat and fish make up a huge part of Chinese barbecue, and This chilli garlic pork and courgette skewer by Shu Han Lee is typical of China – skewers of meat and fish are a huge part of Chinese barbecue. They’re also super easy to put together – Shu creates a classic Chinese meat marinade using chilli garlic sauce, light soy sauce, honey, five spice and sesame oil, and marinades small pieces of pork tenderloin for a couple of hours before threading them onto skewers along with the courgette rounds. With pork tenderloin being such a tender cut, the skewers only take a few minutes to cook!

Char siu pork belly breakfast bao with egg and smoky tomato relish

We often think of pork belly as a slow cooking cut – either to be roasted or braised over a long period of time – but cut it into thinner slices and you can happily sear it on a barbecue. This recipes takes inspiration from a Chinese barbecue classic – char siu pork – and combines char siu and oyster sauces to give the pork an incredible flavour as it chars and caramelises on the barbecue. Slide your moreish pork belly slices into a silky bao bun, finish with a soy sauce-infused tomato relish and scrambled egg and you have the ultimate breakfast bao!

Barbecued hoisin chicken skewers with smashed cucumber salad

We often associate hoisin sauce with duck, but hoisin and chicken are a match made in heaven too – as the chicken cooks, the hoisin marinade caramelises and chars giving you amazing depth of flavour. A smashed cucumber salad does a superb job of mellowing the richness of the chicken skewer, cutting through the hoisin and soy sauce with the tang of black vinegar. Shu’s trick – learnt from her mum – is to smash and salt the cucumber first, so it absorbs all the flavours from the dressing.

Tamarind, teriyaki and chilli oil barbecued aubergine

Anna Hansen is a master when it comes to balancing complex flavours, and she puts her skills to full effect with this clever barbecued aubergine dish. The marinade balances sweet teriyaki sauce with sour tamarind paste and salty soy sauce, with a spicy kick at the end courtesy of some chilli oil. Once you’ve made your marinade, just rub it generously into your aubergine pieces and char them on a barbecue.

Chilli garlic crab claws

If you love getting stuck into something messy at a barbecue, this is a recipe for you. Preparing crab can be a bit of a chore, but cooking the claws on a barbecue is easy work – just get your coals nice and hot, and cook the claws for about five minutes on each side before cracking them and covering them liberally in chilli garlic sauce, chilli oil (with sediment, preferably), Shaoxing wine and a bit of rice wine vinegar. Finish them with a few thinly sliced spring onions for a bit of crunch and you have another simple dish to please your guests. The only difficult bit will be waiting for the claws to cool down before you eat them!

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