Char siu pork

Helen Graves' char siu pork recipe is comfort food at its very best. Helen makes her own char siu marinade – far superior to anything you might find in a jar – and slathers it over her barbecued pork until the whole thing is rich, sticky and sumptuous. Cooking this on the barbecue adds an extra dimension of flavour, but you can just as easily make it in an oven.

First published in 2018

This is a classic Chinese barbecue dish of grilled pork with a sweet, lacquered exterior, and one of the world’s most satisfying comfort foods. This, with a mound of fluffy steamed rice and some simply cooked Chinese greens such as choi sum or pak choi is heaven and a cure for many ills, including hangovers and crappy Mondays.

It’s often cooked in the oven but with some careful manoeuvring can be done on the barbecue at home with great results – just make sure you use long skewers which cover the diameter of your grill.

If you enjoy chilli heat, try adding a tablespoon of chilli flakes to the marinade as they will work well with the sweetness.





  • 900g of pork shoulder, cut into three 'steaks' (you can use pork fillet but be aware it may dry out on the barbecue)

Char siu marinade


  • Barbecue
  • Very long skewers 6


Mix all the marinade ingredients together, then decant 5 tablespoons into a separate bowl (you will use this to baste the meat as it is cooking)
Pour the remaining marinade over the pork, making sure it is well-coated. Cover and refrigerate, overnight if possible
Remove the meat from the fridge then set up the barbecue for indirect cooking. The best way to cook char siu is by skewering the meat onto 2 long skewers per steak, removing the grill from your barbecue and resting the skewers on the edges. You don’t want the marinade to come into contact with the grill due to the high sugar content, as it will stick, burn and become bitter
Cook the char siu for 20 minutes, turning and basting frequently, or until a temperature probe reads 62°C when inserted in the centre. Allow to rest, slice and serve, drizzled with any juices which have accumulated on the plate

Helen Graves is Head of Content at Great British Chefs. She's also the author of the cookbook LIVE FIRE: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions, Old and New, and the editor of Pit, an independent magazine with roots in live fire cooking.

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