Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Chinese Char Siu

We are three weeks away from another glorious week in Maui.  As you know, I love the food of Hawaii, rich in cultural diversity.

The cuisine of Hawaii incorporates many distinct styles representing the settlement and immigration of the Hawaiian Islands.  Native Hawaiians settled the area and fished and raised taro for poi, sugarcane, sweet potatoes and coconuts.  Europeans and American explorers and whalers built large plantations and introduced salted fish which eventually transformed into the side dish lomilomi.   Between 1850 and 1930, immigrants from China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines arrived in Hawaii, introducing new foods such as Chinese Char Siu (Bao).

Char Siu Bao is a Cantonese BBQ pork filled bun, flavored with Char Siu Pork.  In Hawaii, this is called manapua meaning "delicious pork thing".  The recipe can be adapted to exclude the bun.  Hawaiians enjoy the pork sliced with salads.  It is super simple and perfect for potlucks and tailgating.

Hawaiian Char Siu


1/4 cup hoisin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry or sake
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 1/2 pound pork spare ribs or pork butt, cut into 2 inch strips (you could also use a loin or pork belly)


Combine ingredients together and add pork.  Marinate overnight.

Place pork in a pre-heated oven at 400 F and roast for 30 minutes (or until the internal temp reaches at least 145 F).  Alternatively, you could easily grill or smoke.

If oven cooking, broil for the last 10-15 minutes checking every 5 minutes.  The pork should have nice charring on the edge of the pieces.

Notes:  "Kaukau" is pidgin slang word meaning "food" or "to eat".  The Hawaiian term for food is `ai. The two theories of the origin of the word "kaukau" are the Hawaiian word for table, pakaukau and the Chinese word for food, "chow chow".