Pork Belly Char Siew

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I have eaten are the ones made from parts with considerable amount of fats, making them tender, juicy and succulent. The exterior has to be slightly charred and covered in the sweet caramelized sauce, while the interior has to be tender and melt-in-your-mouth.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making char siew, but my oven has been down for a while now. So I thought, “why not make it in a wok?”. And turns out it was way easier to make char siew than I thought!

As I mentioned, I prefer my char siew with a decent amount of fats, so I used pork belly to make my char siew. If you’re more health-conscious and would prefer a less fatty version, you can use pork shoulder cut (五花肉/wu hua rou) instead!

All you have to do is marinate your pork with oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, honey and pepper for minimally 6 hours or overnight.

Add the pork and marinade into a wok, cover with lid and bring marinade to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, continue braising for around 45 minutes. You may flip the pork every 15 minutes or so to ensure the meat cooks evenly.

You may add some water if the marinade becomes too dry. After that, remove the lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the marinade reduces to a thick sauce and the pork is slightly charred.

At this point it may look like a big mess but don’t worry! You may want to finish off the char siew with a blowtorch if you prefer it to be even more charred.

Slice the char siew and serve with any remaining sauce, or smear the sauce over the char siew.

Your char siew should have a crusty exterior covered in a sticky, luscious sauce and its interior should be soft, juicy and flavourful.

I honestly didn’t expect the char siew to be this easy to make and to turn out this good!

And the best part is the marinade ingredients are commonly found in most kitchens so you don’t have to specially buy any ingredient just to make this. Oh, and no awful crimson red food colouring!

Edit (17/4/19): I received some questions regarding my recipe, so I decided to address them here.

Q: Is pork shoulder or pork belly a better cut for making char siew?

A: This is very subjective! Pork shoulder does have some fat, making it a suitable candidate for char siew, but pork belly has much more. Personally, I definitely prefer fattier cuts for char siew, but some of my family members prefer pork shoulder char siew as it’s less fatty.

Q: Can I roast the char siew in the oven instead of in a wok?

A: Yes, you may. I chose the wok method because my oven is not working and I find it less of a hassle. If you’re roasting the char siew in the oven, the recipe will need to adjusted. Instead of 2 cups of water, use only ½ cup of water for the marinade. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C for 20-30 minutes and allow the pork to come to room temperature while waiting. Roast pork for 30 minutes, flipping the pork over mid-way. Meanwhile, in a pot, boil the marinade until it reduces to form a slightly thicker sauce (but not totally reduced to a sticky sauce). Once the pork has been roasted for 30 minutes, apply the sauce all over the char siew and roast for another 10-15 minutes. (See how troublesome this sounds? You need to wait while preheating the oven and you still have to wash one pot!)

Q: Can I roast the char siew at higher temperatures to reduce the cooking time?

A: Yes, you can, the char siew will still be cooked through but the meat may not be as tender. Certain meats need lower temperatures and longer cooking times in order to become tender. In fact, the char siew can finish cooking/roasting within 20 minutes but the meat may still be slightly tough.

Q: If I make just half the recipe, will the cooking time change?

A: If you make half the recipe, the marinade is likely to evaporate and reduce faster while braising, so you might want to monitor the level of liquid. You can either use a smaller wok if you’re only making half the recipe or lower the heat a little while braising so that the marinade doesn’t evaporate too fast. The longer the char siew is braised, the more tender the texture.

Q: Can I use all sugar if I don’t have honey?

A: Yes, you can substitute the honey for sugar. The sweetness may vary a little, but the overall taste will still be good.

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Pork Belly Char Siew

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 6


  • 1 kg pork belly or pork shoulder



  • Combine all marinade ingredients and marinate pork in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • Add pork and marinade into a wok, and bring to a boil over high heat, with lid on. Once boiling, continue braising for around 45 minutes. You may flip the pork every 15 minutes or so to ensure the meat cooks evenly. If marinade becomes too dry, you may add some water.
  • After 45 minutes, remove the lid. The marinade should have reduced by a lot. Turn down the heat to low and cook until the marinade reduces to a thick, sticky sauce and the pork is slightly charred. Slice the char siew and serve with any remaining sauce. You can also sear the meat with a blowtorch for extra flavour.
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3 thoughts on “Pork Belly Char Siew”

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Sheryl,

    I’ve tried your recipe a few times using the wok and I loved it. Was wondering if you tried using an air fryer for it?


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