Monday, September 14, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Char Siu Barcelona

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved.

As a kid, one of the proteins I remember growing up with and eating almost all the time was Chinese BBQ pork. Usually made from the tenderloin or belly cut, this roasted meat is regarded for it's sweet, savory flavory as well as a trademark bright red color. This meat could be used in almost everything - egg scrambles, dim sum buns, fried rice, chow fun, noodle stir-fries... The list could stretch on for miles. 

I've always wanted to try and make my own version of this meat, known in Chinese as "Char Siu" ( 叉燒), which is Cantonese for "Fork Roast". The tricky part for me has always been the red coloring. I've done research and found that most of the time, an artifical red food coloring is used to get that color here in the US. Yuck. In China, traditionally a powder made from a red yeast rice is used, but it was very hard to find that. 

The best natural red food colorings I could come up with were paprika and annato, both of which are not spices typically seen in Chinese cuisine. However, I got an idea to bring paprika in because of its importance in Spanish cuisine, where balsamic does make an appearance (the Spanish make their own too!) I already have a huge appreciation for soy-balsamic combinations, so I figured I could tie paprika into the mix by using the balsamic as one of the sweeter sauce components traditionally used in Char Siu - Oyster sauce (helpful, since my mom has fish allergies). 

This resulted in a Spanish-Asian fusion of this popular Cantonese roast. Served alongisde some Asian sauteed peppers to counter the richness of the pork (and rice as a starchy accompaniment), this is a great meal to serve to a crowd of friends or for any special occasion! 

Recipe serves 5 people.

For the Pork:

1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1/2 tablespoon Szechuan Peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger, with juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 
White pepper to season

For the Peppers:

3 large bell peppers, julienned
1 mild chili, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon Chinese 5 Spice
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil


1) Combine all of the ingredients for the pork marinade with the pork tenderloin in a plastic bag. Seal, place in another plastic bag, then marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

2) Let the pork slack out on a roasting tray lined with tin foil. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F, and bake for 30-35 minutes. 

3) Let the pork rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. In that time, add the garlic, ginger,  and sesame oil to a frying pan on medium heat. Let the garlic and ginger cook out for around 30 seconds before adding the chopped chili and bell peppers. Saute for 3 minutes before adding in the soy sauce, 5 spice, and lemon pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes until the bell peppers start to stew. 

There is definitely a lot going on in this dish, but it balances out to a sweet, mellow, and aromatic flavor that perfectly accentuates the flavor of pork tenderloin. The bell peppers retain enough crunch to provide texture, but take on the flavors of the pork and their own spices very well. Together, the pork and peppers makes the perfect fusion centerpiece to impress! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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