Char siu ribs are incredibly delicious; these sweet and sticky, Chinese-style ribs will quickly become one of your favorite dishes. Serve these char siu ribs with rice and stir-fried vegetables for the perfect meal.
What is Char Siu?
Char siu is Cantonese-style barbecued pork. Typically, the meat of choice is pork loin, but some cooks use pork belly, ribs, and pork butt. The meat is coated in a flavorful sauce filled with spices, including umami and sweet elements. Red food coloring is added to the sauce to give it a distinct bright red color. Char siu is usually baked or slow-cooked in an indoor oven and served with starches like noodles and rice. This dish remains popular in Asia, with variations in South East Asia and East Asia. Char siu is also available in restaurants across the United States, where its popularity grew in various Chinatowns and popular tourist areas in Hawaii.
Making Char Siu Ribs:
Grill set-up: While char siu is typically cooked in an oven, we will be taking these barbecued pork ribs to the grill. I recommend cooking these low and slow, with a target cooking temperature between 225-250 degrees F. Set up for indirect cooking or a two-zone cooking area. Place an aluminum drip pan with a 1/2 cup of water underneath the ribs to mitigate any flare-ups. The sauce is sugary, and when dripping occurs, it can burn very quickly.
Ribs: This recipe calls for two racks of baby back ribs cut into individual ribs. Why? You will get a better coating of sauce and caramelization on your char siu ribs. However, you can leave the slabs whole if preferred.
Marinade and Glaze:
Marinating: This char siu ribs recipe contains both a marinade and a glaze. Trust me when I say that you’ll love this combination. It is absolutely delicious! Marinate the pork ribs anywhere from 2-6 hours. For best results, aim for at least 4 hours.
The Glaze: This is the real deal. This glaze is what makes these char siu ribs well, char siu. It contains the staple ingredients for any good char siu, including Hoisin sauce, rice wine or rice wine vinegar, five-spice powder, sesame oil, and red food coloring.
Saucing the ribs: Begin saucing the ribs after they reach 170-175 degrees F. Aim for an overall doneness temperature of 185 degrees F.
Pork tenderloin: You can apply this char siu recipe to pork tenderloin. Use two tenderloins and the same marinade and sauce (glaze) measurements. Cook over for 1 to 1 1/2 hours over 259 degrees F., or until you reach your desired target temperature. Sauce the meat during the second half of cooking time. I recommend having a reliable instant-read thermometer on hand.
Want it saucier? Double the glaze recipe and apply more sauce to the ribs.
Storing leftover Char Siu Ribs:
Store your leftovers char siu pork ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- 2 racks baby back ribs 3 1/2 pounds
- 1/4 cup green onion finely chopped (garnish)
- 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- Cut the rack of ribs into individual ribs. Place into two resealable plastic bags.
- Combine marinade ingredients and split mixture into half. Coat each set of ribs with marinade. Move ribs around to make sure they are well coated.
- Secure ribs in plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.
- Preheat grill, and prepare for a 1 1/2-2 hour indirect cook. Plan on a cooking temperature of 250 degrees F.
- Remove ribs from the refrigerator, and let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature. Keep wrapped until ready to grill.
- Unwrap ribs, and place ribs on to grill, bone side down, over the indirect space and cook for 2 hours. Set a water-filled drip pan underneath the ribs.
- Combine glaze ingredients in a medium bowl. Start basting the last 30-40 minutes of cook time. Before basting check the temp of the ribs. The ribs should be mostly cooked through, with an internal temperature between 170-175 degrees F.
- Baste several times on the meat side of the rack. Watch for burning.
- Once ribs reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees F., and the baste has set up nicely, remove from grill and place onto a large clean cutting board or serving platter.
- Garnish with green onion and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
- *You can leave the slab of ribs whole if preferred.