Is there anything better than a simple plate of rice and char siu?
Chinese BBQ is a weird and wonderful thing. Like with European community bread ovens, its origins come from ancient times when Chinese villages could only support one central oven capable of making slow roasted meats. There would be one BBQ master, and in their window would hang whole pork carcasses, ducks, and always, sweet, smoky char siu.
Making char siu at home isn’t hard, and there are lots of recipes online, but most of these recipes are oven-based. In my opinion though, an air fryer is a million times better. It heats up faster; the air circulation gets you a better char; and the inside is perfectly cooked in a tenth of the time.
How to make air fryer char siu
- Cube the pork. Because we’re doing this in an air fryer, surface area is your friend. Plus, more char equals more flavor.
- Make the marinade. Just 5 ingredients, plus a couple of optional.
- Marinate overnight. You can go as short as 30 mins but longer is better.
- Air fry to perfection: 8 mins at 375º is what I did.
- Enjoy on fluffy white rice with some fresh greens, or use in a recipe of your choice (more below).
Is this better than baked?
This recipe builds on our standard char siu recipe, but replaces the oven with an air fryer, and honestly, I’ll probably never go back to a conventional oven again, unless I somehow have a need for a giant batch. Hey, it could happen.
I also replaced the standard pork shoulder with a 1.5″ thick cut, well-marbled pork chop. It was way easier to find at the store than a pork shoulder. Moreover, it comes out juicy, sweet, and delicious, the way Chinese BBQ should be. Like Steph with her baking, sometimes small batch is the way to go, although for how delicious this is, you might want to save the marinade and do an easy second or third batch. It’ll go quick.
What to do with char siu
- 1 lb thick cut pork chop
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 inch ginger sliced
- 2 tsp shaoxing wine optional
- 1/2 tsp chinese five spice powder optional
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper optional
Feel free to save the marinade in the fridge to use again within 24 hours, or bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes to use as a sauce or glaze for an extra rich char siu.