The more I cook, and experiment with food, the more I start to see patterns that connect many different cuisines. Take grilled meat, for example; people have been coming up with ways to grill, and season meat from the very first “campfires” to the modern day of globalization, super markets, and the blending of cultures that results. “Xa Xiu” or “Char Siu” is a Cantonese take on grilled pork that has been one of my favorite go-to techniques when the weather gets warmer, and I have the time necessary to pull it off.
I’ve made the marinade for this several times, and keep thinking of ways to tweak it. The first time I had red pork, it was bright red–though it was tasty, I figured it couldn’t be totally natural. I did some research, and learned that the true red-brown color comes from dark soy sauce, which combines soy and molasses–it’s a little thicker than regular soy, and isn’t quite as salty. I didn’t realize until I had finished cooking everything that I forgot to add it to the marinade this time around…it didn’t really affect the flavor, but yours will have take on a deeper color than my latest version. Combine it with five-spice powder, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and chili paste, and you have the foundation for your marinade.
Marinate and store in the fridge overnight. Over time, the meat will begin to take on an even, red-brown color, and you’ll know it’s ready to cook. Remove the meat from the marinade, and pat dry, but save the excess! You’ll need it to glaze the meat after searing. Before you do, though, boil it in a separate pot to both remove excess water, and be sure that the glaze is cooked and safe to eat before brushing it on the meat.
Since the pork will be sweet, I paired it with some bitter mustard greens for contrast, and finished it off with some green onion, and sesame seeds. Once it’s cooked, though, it’s perfect for sandwiches, stir fries, and even soups. The choice(s) are yours…
2 Thick Cut Pork Chops
3 Cups Mustard Greens, chopped
6 Cloves of Garlic, grated
1/2 Cup Green Onions, sliced thinly
1 Tbs Ginger, grated
1 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Sesame Seeds
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Tbs Sugar
1 Tbs Five Spice Powder
2 Tbs Cider Vinegar
1 Tbs Chili Flakes
2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
1/4 Tbs Sesame Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Combine soy sauce, dark soy sauce, garlic, ginger, honey, five spice, water, cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a sauce pot, and reduce until thick. Remove from the heat, and cool to room temperature.
- Transfer pork chops to a large ziplock bag, pour in the thickened marinade, and store in the refrigerator overnight–flip at least once.
- Remove bag from the fridge, and let stand for thirty minutes prior to cooking. Transfer meat to a cutting board and pat dry–reserve the excess marinade for glazing.
- Place a heavy pan on medium-high heat, and sear on all sides, then finish cooking in the oven at 425 degrees. Transfer marinade to a small sauce pot, and bring to a low boil, and stir. Baste the meat with the thickened sauce until the meat is coated evenly.
- Wilt mustard greens, and green onion in a large pot on medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, then lower the heat. Add sesame seeds.
- Plate and serve.
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