Perfect char siu (barbecued pork) using sous-vide

charsiu sous-vide

I am a char siu addict. But I am also a char siu snob. I absolutely hate artificially colored, dried out, flavorless char siu. It’s like eating cardboard that someone’s poured syrup and food coloring on. Yech. But good char siu, char siu made from wonderfully fatty cuts of pork, char siu that has been marinated properly and for the right amount of time, and char siu that has a wonderful crisp char while still remaining moist inside… that’s pork heaven.

But I am also getting old. So while pork belly char siu is all the rage — and I admit I do love it when done well — I can’t actually eat too much of it. When I make char siu at home these days, I tend to use pork neck (ideally Kurobuta).


Six years ago, I posted a char siu recipe that I still swear by. But these days, I tend not to roast the pork in the oven for the full cook, but instead cook it sous-vide and then only finish it off in a hot oven. This lets me do two things. Firstly, it means I can prep a huge amount of char siu, each portion individually packaged in a vacuum sealed bag. Once cooked, I freeze these beautiful pieces of pork. This then gives me then the ability to defrost a portion when I need it and have char siu pretty much whenever I want. Secondly, it helps me ensure that the pork stays super moist and tender. It locks in flavour and the result is a pretty spectacular piece of meat.

charsiu rice bowl

Finishing off the pork is easy. Use either a super hot oven or a blowtorch. You will need to coat the already cooked pork with a combination of hoisin sauce and honey. This then ensures a nice sweet, savory flavour on the char.

I love having slabs of pre-cooked char siu in the freezer. It makes coming up with a simple but satisfying meal super-easy. For example, the rice bowl pictured above was something I made for my wife and myself for lunch recently. All I had to do was cook a few eggs sous-vide, defrost the pork and finish it off, and serve that with pickles (which is another thing I usually have in the fridge) and voila, easy-peasy.


About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!