Learning > Recipes

Char siew - without an oven

Hedy Khoo on 16 Aug 2018

The New Paper


Facebook Email

Fancy some easy-to-make tender honey-glazed char siew? You do not even need an oven to roast it and get that slightly charred exterior.


With a sturdy wok, you can produce char siew that will have your family and friends clamouring for more.


The best part about home cooking is that you call the shots when it comes to ingredients.


Cuts of meat commonly used for char siew are the pork collar or shoulder butt (wu hua rou in Mandarin), or pork belly.


For a leaner cut, some opt for meat from the front trotters, just above the hock, known as "twee bak" in Hokkien.


I avoid lean cuts for char siew as the lack of fat can result in a tough and chewy texture.


The choicest cut - my favourite - for making char siew is the pork neck, colloquially called "fei ji rou" in Mandarin.


It is pricier but worth every cent as the meat has the right amount of fat and renders char siew that is mouth-wateringly succulent and moist.


When making char siew, I don't use red food dye as I prefer the luscious glistening caramelisation of the char siew.


While you do not need an oven, a quality wok will certainly help to make your char siew dreams come true.


Honey and sugar in the marinade give the meat an aromatic sweetness but the flip side is that the sauce can burn easily.


Using non-stick cookware helps prevent the exterior of the meat getting burnt before the interior is cooked through.




Serves 6


  • 1kg pork (fei ji rou), cut into 4 pieces lengthwise
  • 4 tbs Shaoxing wine
  • ¼ tsp Chinese rose wine
  • 110g fine sugar
  • 6 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs fermented soya bean paste
  • 1 tbs light soya sauce
  • 2 tbs dark soya sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped




1. Rinse the meat and place in bowl. Add the Shaoxing wine and Chinese rose wine. Set the meat aside to chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the marinade.


2. In a bowl, mix the sugar, honey, oyster sauce, fermented soya bean paste, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and salt.


3. Add the chopped garlic. Mix well.


4. Using gloves, massage the marinade into the meat.


5. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate the meat to marinate for three to four hours.


6. Without using oil, place the meat in the wok. Add all of the excess marinade. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes then bring the heat down to low. Turn each piece over to ensure it is well-coated.


7. Let the meat continue to cook, covered over low heat, for another 25 minutes. Turn the meat over every 10 minutes. The sauce will lessen and thicken as the meat cooks.


8. Use a skewer to check that the meat is cooked. Remove the meat from the pan and allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.


Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


The views, material and information presented by any third party are strictly the views of such third party. Without prejudice to any third party content or materials whatsoever are provided for information purposes and convenience only. Council For The Third Age shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising directly or indirectly howsoever in connection with or as a result of any person accessing or acting on any information contained in such content or materials. The presentation of such information by third parties on this Council For The Third Age website does not imply and shall not be construed as any representation, warranty, endorsement or verification by Council For The Third Age in respect of such content or materials.