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Char Siew (Ribs) – 叉燒


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Char Siew Ribs, (pronounced Cha-Siew, drop the R sound) is a staple here in the tropical paradise we love to call home, Singapore. I adapted Meathead Goldwyn’s Amazing Ribs recipe to test out the authenticity and flavour profile of one of my favourite foods. I was amazed on both fronts! The great thing is that you can also make these ribs indoors in an oven if you don’t have the ability to grill outside.

In Singapore, you’ll see Char Siew hanging in most hawker stall windows. They tend to use the pork collar instead of ribs. The collars are loaded with fatty tissue that melts when slowly roasted. The flavour is intoxicating and you’ll line up for more! You can get a plate full of this delicious pork with steamed rice and veggies or my favourite, won ton noodles and broth with a healthy dollop of chili sauce. Needless to say, if you’ve ever been through Singapore, this is a dish you’ve got to try. My local hawker centre sells the above mentioned for $3.50 (SGD) or $2.60 (USD), a bargain if you’re on a budget!

So the ingredients list for the marinade goes a bit like this:

  1. 1/2 cup hoisin sauce

  2. 1/2 cup vodka (or rum or brandy or even red wine)

  3. 1/4 cup quality honey

  4. 1/4 cup light soy sauce

  5. 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  6. 2 tablespoons hot sauce of your choice

  7. 2 tablespoons powdered ginger

  8. 2 tablespoons powdered onion

  9. 1 tablespoon powdered garlic

  10. 1 tablespoon five spice powder

  11. 1 teaspoon red food colouring

Mix all of the above in a metal bowl (as you may run the risk of staining a plastic bowl with that red food colouring) and set it aside. Let it sit for about an hour in the fridge and when you’re ready to pour it over the ribs, give it a good whisk!

I used three racks of baby back ribs and cut them into individual ribs. Not something I normally do but for this recipe, you want each rib to be fully coated with that lovely marinade! When ready, place your ribs into a heavy duty zip-top bag, add the marinade and give the bag a good massage,