Chinese “Barbecued” Pork

On Monday morning I began looking for a new Labor Day BBQ recipe.  Most recipe would have required me to start marinating the day before (obviously an improbability). Finally I came across this 2007 recipe for Chinese BBQ pork. The ingredient list looked delicious, plus it only required a few hours of marinating.  However after I brought the ingredients home, I noticed that the “barbecued” pork was cooked entirely in the oven. While technically meeting the definition of “barbecue”, I felt cheated out of my end-of-summer BBQ. In any case, the meal was a big hit. Nearly the entire four pounds of pork was gone by then end of the evening, so nobody else seemed to mind about the break in tradition.  Flavorful, but some of the thicker pieces could have used more sauce (see issues); 4-stars.

Delicious, but not really barbecued.

I made two cups of rice, but it turned out the boiling one cup of dried rice would have yielded more than enough.


  1. The diagram on the cooks illustrated website of slicing a 4-lb Boston pork butt (actually the shoulder) is too idyllic to be helpful. They say to first slice vertically, then cut each piece into four even 1″-thick pieces. (total of eight 1″-slices). However, while removing the bone the butchers make all sorts of slices and tie it back together. So, just do your best to get 8 evenly sized pieces.
  2. I would recommend reserving 1/4 cup of sauce separately before you baste.  This will let you avoid cross contamination in case you don’t use it all during basting. Some of the extra sauce would have added better flavor for the thicker pieces.
  3. As I mentioned above, the pork is baked and broiled; not barbecued.
  4. Because I didn’t have “Chinese five-spice powder”, I substituted: 1/5 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/5 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/5 teaspoon cloves, 1/5 teaspoon black pepper, 1/3 teaspoon anise extract. Here is more on the substitution.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $16.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium
Start time 2:45 PM. Dinnertime: 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

4-lb boneless pork butt (Boston butt)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (Recipe calls for white but  I used black)
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (see my substitute)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (requires about a 5″ piece)
2 medium cloves garlic
1/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup honey

  1. First slice your roast in half lengthwise.  Next, turn each piece cut-side down. If your pork butt is 4″ thick, then slice each half-roast lengthwise in 4 even slices. If using a pork butt that is less than 4″, cut each half-roast into 3 slices.  into six pieces instead of eight.
  2. Trim away any excess fat. Prick each piece of pork 10 to 12 times on each side using the tines of a fork. Put all pork into a 1-gallon zip-lock bag.
  3. Peel ginger and grate on the smallest holes of a box grater, adding 2 tablespoons to a medium bowl. Peel the 2 garlic cloves and press directly into the bowl.
  4. Add sugar, soy sauce, hoisin, sherry, pepper, five-spice powder, sesame oil to bowl.
  5. Whisk to combine and Reserve 1/2 cup marinade and set aside.
  6. Pour remaining marinade into bag with pork. Press out as much air as possible, and seal the zip-lock bag. Refrigerate and allow to for between 2 and 4 hours.
  7. While the meat marinates, combine ketchup and honey and the 1/2-cup marinade in small saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat until it has reduced to 1 cup. Reserve 1/4-cup of the glaze for serving at table. (see issue #3)
  8. About 15 minutes before the pork is done marinating, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 310-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and set wire rack onto sheet. Spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray to ease clean-up.
  9. Remove pork from marinade, letting any excess drip off, and place on wire rack. Pour 1/4 cup water into bottom of pan. Cover pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Crimping the edges tightly to form a better seal.
  10. Cook pork for 20 minutes, covered.
  11. Remove foil and continue to cook for 45 more minutes until the edges begin to brown.
  12. Turn on broiler onto high, and broil for 9 minutes until the meat is evenly caramelized. Remove from oven and brush pork with half of glaze. Broil for 4 minutes until it becomes a deep mahogany.
  13. Flip meat with tongs and broil for another 9 minutes until the other side becomes caramelized. Brush meat with remaining glaze and continue to broil until second side is deep mahogany, 4 minutes.
  14. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then cut into thin strips and serve. Serve with final 1/4 cup sauce.

One Response to Chinese “Barbecued” Pork

  1. Brenda says:

    Just found your blog. Looking forward to going back and reading all your posts. Love this idea of yours!

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