Char Siu With Fig Jam Glaze

December  9, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by Mandy Lee
Author Notes

So many recipes exist for char siu, a world-famous Cantonese barbecued pork, that you may not think another is needed. However, as is the case with many staple dishes, there is no "perfect" or “correct” interpretation, but only a favorite one. And this one is proudly mine. Here, I achieve the meat’s iconic dark red exterior stain—often so vibrant because the marinade contains food dye—with fresh beet juice, just one of the mixture’s both traditional and unconventional ingredients, which strike the perfect balance in flavor and consistency. Baked in relatively low heat to achieve an almost sous-vide-like interior juiciness, the char siu is then glazed and torched with a gooey-sticky coating that is both floral and fruity for that classic charred and glistening finish. I've had my fair share of char siu, you see, and I can't think of one that I'd like to eat more than this version.

Note: This recipe calls for a kitchen torch to get the signature charred exterior—it’s necessary for the best end result, but if you don’t have a torch, skip it.
Mandy @ Lady and pups

Watch This Recipe
Char Siu With Fig Jam Glaze
  • Prep time 6 hours 40 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • Pork & Marinade
  • 1 pound (450 grams) pork shoulder (preferably marbled), or skinless pork belly
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) beet juice
  • 1/4 cup (72 grams) hoisin sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37 grams) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) potato, tapioca, or cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (30 grams) yellow miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) Chinese rose wine, baijiu, or gin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Fig Jam Glaze
  • 3 tablespoons (60 grams) floral honey
  • 2 tablespoons (36 grams) fig jam
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
In This Recipe
  1. Cut the pork into 1½-inch-wide strips, then use a wooden skewer to poke a few holes on each side of the strips. In a large bowl, whisk together the beet juice, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, potato starch, miso, fish sauce, sugar, rose wine, mustard, five-spice, and pepper until combined. Place the pork in the mixture, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours, turning the meat once halfway.
  2. Remove the pork from the fridge and mix in the smashed garlic. Heat the oven to 355°F/180°C with a rack in the middle position. Place 4 small heatproof cups or ramekins on top of a parchment- or foil-lined sheet pan, then place a roasting rack or heatproof cooking rack on top of the cups (this promotes air circulation around the pork as it bakes).
  3. Place the pork on top of the rack 2 to 3 inches apart, then place the sheet pan and rack in the oven. Keep the container with the marinade nearby. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Pick up each piece of pork with heatproof tongs, carefully dip each back into the marinade, then return to the rack with the side that was facing up now facing down. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 150°F/65°C. Discard the marinade.
  4. While the pork is roasting, in a small pot, stir together the honey, fig jam, butter, and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  5. Once the pork is cooked through, use a kitchen torch to add a little char to the exterior of each piece of pork. (Don’t use the broiler to do this or the pork will be completely overcooked.) Let the pork rest on the rack at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  6. To serve, slather the top and sides of the char siu with the fig jam glaze, then torch it again for about 15 to 20 seconds on each side, until sizzling. Flip, then glaze and torch the bottom of each piece of pork. Let the char siu rest again for 5 minutes for the glaze to set before slicing and serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kelli_Epicurie
  • Julie Vu
    Julie Vu
  • Angela

6 Reviews

Angela January 17, 2022
This recipe looks lovely. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure it will taste great.
Kitchen Installation
ATLSWIMMAN8 January 4, 2022
Referencing the recipe by 'Mandy' of Food52.
Whatever 'this' is, it is NOT Cantonese Char-Siu Pork.
Perhaps I am too much of a traditionalist and I am too protective and proud of my heritage... even so, I doubt that any professional Cantonese pit-grill-Master would consider this as Cantonese Char-Siu Pork. Beet juice, miso, mustard, fig jam? Mention those to any Cantonese Grill-Sifu and he'll laugh his donkey off.
It is, however, a version-variety of barbecue pork..... albeit, of your creation. (commendable! And yes, I'd give it a try too.)
But please, don't call it Char-Siu. It definitely is not Cantonese Char-Siu Pork.
ATLSWIMMAN8 January 4, 2022
Call it WHATEVER you want - but, this is NOT 'Char Siu Pork'. Period.
Kelli_Epicurie January 3, 2022
Substituted the fig jam with fresh plum jam, used powdered beetroot for color, gin (strangely I couldn't even find rose wine at H Mart) and it worked out beautifully. Also, I loved the excuse to finally get a kitchen torch. 🔥🔥🔥
Julie V. December 26, 2021
Just made this today and the results were amazing (even with marinating for only 6 hrs instead of overnight)! Succulent, flavorful interior that paired perfectly with the sweet, floral glaze. I also love how well the beet juice worked as a natural colorant. Definitely agree with Mandy that this cha shao is special.
Cookycook December 21, 2021
5 stars!!! Somehow I could leave only 3?
I am at most an intermediate cook. What's more, I live in a place where certain ingredients in this recipe are not the easiest to find. When I saw Mandy's video, I jumped at the chance to make this, it looked simpler to me than some of her previous recipes, and it starred pork whick is very available to me and somehow festive for the season. I made this with only a 6 hour marinade and it is amazing!!! Dare I say, I am proud of myself! Thank you Mandy and this website! I have gone up a level in my cooking, I am so thankful.
Full disclosure: could not go to the health food store that carries miso. I substituted with hot gochujang which I had had from a previous Eric Kim / Maangchi recipe and I loved it!!!