Monday, April 09, 2012

Paper Clip Pork/Char Sieu

Char Sieu or bbq pork is something you can find in just about every Chinatown deli or your big box Chinese supermarket. I am not sure how they cook them. But in my family, just about everyone has been taught to cook the marinated pork in an oven, not an actual barbecue pit or oven. My uncle's method of using paper clips seems to work best. Yes, paper clips. They're not just for paper anymore. ;) To my family, there was nothing weird about that. Anything that is a vehicle to well-cooked food is fine with us. I didn't realize how foreign this sounded until I came to Phoenix and explained it to people. Then I thought, "OK, yeah, that sounds kind of weird." So, here among my Phoenix friends, it's referred to as "paper clip pork." Or in the gossip circle as "clothespin chicken." Talk about lost in translation. Anyway, it's a very easy recipe that I'm more than willing to share.

You will need:
1 jar of hoisin sauce (go to any Chinese market)
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tsps. of curing salt
A little bit of white wine i.e. Chablis
pork shoulder butt roast (somewhere between 3-4 pounds)

What you do:
Rinse off the pork butt roast and let it drain for a bit. Cut into sizeable length-wise slabs, maybe about 1/2-1 inch thick. Depends on what you prefer. Empty the hoisin sauce jar into a large bowl. Pour in the sugar and salt. Pour a little bit of white wine into the bottom of the empty jar and shake the jar around to rinse out the hoisin remnants. Pour that into the bowl. Stir the marinade until it seems like the sugar has been distributed. Put all the pieces of pork in and mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for approximately 48 hours. It doesn't have to be exactly 48 but definitely more than 24.

Fast forward two days later...time for the paper clips. First, make sure one oven rack is at the top-most level. Then preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take out one clip for each piece and bend both ends so that you get a hook on each end. Once the oven is ready, take some oven mitts and slide both racks out. Put a tray lined with tin foil on the bottom rack. This will help catch the drippings. Pierce one end of a paper clip into a piece of meat. Try to do it in a thick part to ensure the pork won't fall off. Use the other end to hang the meat from the top rack. You may have to bend the clip end to make it more rounded. The paper clips basically are a great way to make sure the meat cooks on all sides in a consistent fashion. The next step is very important. PUSH BOTH OVEN RACKS BACK IN AT THE SAME TIME. Otherwise, you will have a very messy oven flecked with marinade drippings. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.

Once it's time, they should look nice and red.

If the ends aren't crispy and tinged with black already, you can try setting the oven on broil for 2 minutes. When the char sieu is ready, slide the oven racks out at the same time. Use a pair of tongs to take down the pork slabs. You can cut one open just to make sure it's cooked through. Let them cool down before you take the paper clips out. And then you're done!

This cut of meat is more fattening. So, each piece is not meant to be consumed by one person like a pork chop or steak. Rather, you should cut up on slab into little slices. You can serve slices with rice and vegetables. You can throw them in with a slew of vegetables to make a one-dish meal. You can dice them to add some flavor to a batch of fried rice.

If someone like myself who prefers baking can make this, then there's hope for anyone. Also, I'm happy to show anyone in person how to do it. The only thing I want in return is that you have to teach me something _ a recipe, taking pictures, learning how to tie the Windsor knot, etc Basically, teach me something new. Impart knowledge on me. There's always an appetite for that.


Anonymous said...

This is SO awesome. I'm definitely going to have to try this!

Christine F.

buy resveratrol said...

I love Chinese dishes, especially this baked sweet pork.

Anonymous said...

I'm so going to try this rcp with my budding 15 year old chef!