Cooking: For novice home cooks – part 10

As the weather warms up, I get the urge to fire up the grill and sear a hunk of meat.

I don’t know what it is, but even guys that hate cooking, if you give them a piece of red meat and a charcoal grill, they will happily don an apron and happily start cooking over an open flame.

So over the weekend, I was in an asian supermarket and saw some pork shoulder with nice marbling, and thought that it would make a nice cantonese barbecued pork (char sui  叉烧肉), so that’s what I’m doing today.

For the uninitiated, if you’ve passed by the front of a Chinese butcher shop, you would have seen these.


It’s a savory marinated barbecued pork with a sticky-sweet glaze. That’s the goal.

You’ll need

a propane or charcoal grill
1 1/2 lbs (about 600g) of pork picnic shoulder (with good marbling)
2 tbs soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbs hoisin sauce
3 tbs rice wine/cooking wine
1 tbs ground bean sauce (this is a paste made from fermented soy beans)
1/2 tsp Five spice powder
1 glove garlic, finely minced
2 tbs sweet sauce (this is a sweet sauce made from soy beans)
1 tbs honey or maltose


  • my pork shoulder was kinda square shaped, and I expected it would take a while to cook all the way through, so I cut it in half, along the grain of the meat to produce two rectangular sized pieces that would cook in a shorter time.
  • mince the garlic very fine.
  • prepare the marinade buy combining the minced garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine, ground bean sauce, and five spice powder.  Mix thoroughly.
  • perforate the pork using a sharp knife or the tines of a fork (this assists the marinade to penetrate the meat)
  • place the pork in a durable plastic bag with the marinade, mix the sauce around so that it coats all pork.IMG_20200512_180410
  • store the bag with the marinading pork in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  Turn the bag over every 2 hours.
  • prepare the glaze by combining the sweet sauce with honey (or use maltose if you have it available)IMG_20200512_175954
  • fire up the grill to medium-high and let come to temperature.
  • get a nice sear on one size (about 3 minutes) then flip the meat
  • let sear on the other side (for about another 2-3 minutes)
  • turn the heat down to medium-low

  • use a brush to glaze the meat and then turn the meat over every 2-3 minutes
  • repeat until the pork reaches an internal temperature of about 150F (about 65C). Remember that the pork will continue to “carry-over” cook for several minutes after removing the heat source.  It should stop at about 155F.
  • let rest for at least 15 minutes on the counter, slice across the grain of the meat and serveIMG_20200512_184908


  • There’s a fair about of sugar in the marinade and in the glaze, so this pork could char and burn easily. Either keep the meat moving around the grill, or use indirect heat (i.e. turn the heat on one half of the grill surface, and leave the other half off.  Char the meat on both sides over the direct heat part of the grill, and then move the meat over to the “cool” side of the grill, and close the lid.  This will cause the heat to circulate inside the grill, cooking the meat indirectly.  This will take longer, but will avoid burning, and produce a more tender texture).
  • There are many recipes for this available on the internet.  Many use pork tenderloin.  I do not recommend this.  Pork tenderloin is very lean and will go from cooked to overcooked very easily.
  • Frequently cantonese barbecued pork will have a bright red colour.  That comes from food colouring.  My recipe does not have it.  It’s optional, personally I don’t like it.

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