Chinese BBQ (Char Siu) Kebabs

For the BBQ sauce:
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
3 tablespoons honey (4 tablespoons for a sweeter taste)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (3 tablespoons light soy sauce for a saltier taste)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 thumb ginger, minced
8 cloves garlic, minced

1 kilogram (2 1/4 pounds) meat (options: pork shoulder, pork neck, chicken thigh, chicken breast, wings) (*see footnote 1)

Special equipment:
Bamboo skewers (or metal skewers)

To marinate the meat:
Combine all ingredients for the BBQ sauce except the vegetable oil, ginger, and garlic in a bowl and mix well.

Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm. Turn to low heat. Add ginger and garlic. Cook and stir a few times until fragrant. Add the BBQ sauce. Cook and stir until the texture becomes smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a bowl to cool.

Add meat to a ziplock bag and 2/3 of the sauce (*see footnote 2). Press the air out of the bag and seal it. Give the bag a good massage, so that the sauce covers the meat evenly.

Save the rest of the sauce in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. You will use it for the glaze later.

Marinate meat in the fridge for 24 hours.

To prepare barbecue:
(Optional) If using bamboo skewers, soak 8 skewers in water for 15 minutes.

Transfer the meat to a plate and discard the marinade.
If you are cooking pork or chicken skewers, transfer the meat to a cutting board and cut it into bite sized cubes (about 1 inches / 2.5 centimeters). (*see footnote 3)

Thread the meat onto the bamboo or metal skewers.

Add charcoal to one end of the grill and start a fire. When the coals are evenly lit, close the grill and allow it to warm up.
To cook skewers

Place meat skewers on the direct heat (i.e. above the coals) and close the lid to cook, until nicely charred on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Brush glaze on the meat. Turn meat to cook the other side. Close the lid and let cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. If the meat is getting burned, move the skewers to the other side of the grill (the one with no coals under it) and close the lid. Keep cooking over indirect heat until cooked through.

Serve warm.

To cook bigger cuts of meat:
Place marinated pork shoulder or chicken thigh over direct heat and cook until nicely charred, about 5 minutes per side.

Brush glaze on the meat. Move the meat to the indirectly heated side, cover the grill, and allow to cook.

Check on the meat every 5 minutes and brush with glaze. Cook until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat reads 150 to 160 F degrees (65 to 70 C) for pork, and 165 F (74 C) for chicken, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the meat to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
Serve warm.

Save the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge or up to 1 month in the freezer.

1. For cooking larger cuts of pork shoulder, I used a strip that was about 20cm (8”) in length and 4cm (1.5” in width). It cooked faster than a whole piece and yielded more flavorful meat.

2. Do not cut the meat into small pieces when marinating. It causes the meat to dry out during cooking.

3. You can cook chicken skewers by using boneless skinless thighs, chicken breasts, or wings. For wings, thread onto skewers without cutting.

Leave a comment