BBQ Char Siu Roast Pork on the Grill

Now that it’s officially summer, you’re probably hunting for something good to slap on the grill. If you’re looking for something a little bit different to put over those hot coals this 4th of July (or any other summer day for that matter), this BBQ char siu (roast pork) may just be the trick. This recipe is adapted from our original roast pork cha siu recipe, but we modified it slightly to make it perfect for grilling!

For this recipe variation, I eliminated the soy sauce, tomato paste, and paprika and added 1/8 teaspoon of red food coloring. It’s a little controversial for some, but I wanted to see the difference in color, and believe me, it looks and tastes just like the restaurant stuff hanging in the window! That said, it is optional, so use your own judgement.

The most important part of this recipe is selecting the right cut of meat; pork shoulder is the perfect selection, since it is nicely marbled with enough fat so it won’t dry out on the grill. Ask your butcher to select a piece with just a bit more fat–the key to juicy perfection with grilled meat is just a little extra marbling.

Take your time to marinate your pork overnight, watch these babies on the grill like a hawk, and you’ll end up with roast pork that you just can’t stop eating! Just picture your personal summer porky paradise: a perfectly cooked plate of roast pork char siu right off the grill with a cold beverage within reach.

Trust me on this.

Grilled Char Siu: Recipe Instructions

Cut the pork into long 1 1/2 to 2-inch thick pieces. There is a technique to cutting pork that I learned from my father. First, find where the meat has the fat and the membrane between the muscle, and use a sharp knife to cut and separate them. My father always said that if you look at the pork closely, it will show you how it wants to be cut by following the muscle membrane lines.

This is a brilliant way to do it, because you end up with the fat and the tougher membrane on the outside, protecting the tender meat and keeping it juicy on the grill. The char siu marinade and heat also break down this membrane, so it won’t be tough at all.

(Check out my post on how to break down a whole pork shoulder, which includes a video!)

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

Once you have your pieces of meat separated, you can decide if they need to be cut further into manageable pieces since grilling involves more handling and moving/turning of the meat than roasting in the oven. You will most likely have to butterfly the thicker pieces of the meat to get the desired thickness.

Always start just where the meat starts to be thicker than you want; cut towards and into the thickest part, stop 1½ inches from the end and butterfly the meat. This method for breaking down the pork also applies to roasting Chinese BBQ pork in the oven. I included some pictures and details since we got quite a few questions after posting the oven-roasted version.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

They’re not the prettiest, but believe me, you won’t care what they look like.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

Mix all of the marinade ingredients—sugar, salt, five spice powder, white pepper, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, molasses, garlic, and red food coloring (if using)—in a bowl and mix well.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

Place the pork into a gallon zip top bag, and pour the marinade mix in. Seal the bag and work the marinade into the meat until every piece is evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

The next day, place the pork on a plate, making sure to shake off the excess marinade in the bag. Too much marinade left on the meat will increase the chances of burning your pork char siu. Pour the rest of the marinade into a bowl and add the rest of the basting ingredients; get your basting brush ready.

Preheat your gas or charcoal grill, making sure it’s extremely hot. You want a nice sear on the meat to seal in the juices before you turn it, but try not to get it too crispy on one side. You will be turning the meat often during the cooking process to prevent burning and make sure that marinade gets nice and caramelized. On a hot grill, you should be cooking it for about 3 minutes before flipping it.

After both sides are seared, you can turn the grill down slightly to prevent drying out the meat. Turn the meat often; I did every 2 to 3 minutes making sure to get an even sear on all sides. I also started to brush and baste the meat after each turn to keep it moist and flavorful. If the meat looks like it starts to get dry on the surface, it needs to be basted.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

Continue this turning and basting for another 20 to 30 minutes and make sure you don’t walk away from the grill! With all of this marinade, your roast pork char siu could burn to a crisp very quickly, so protect your time and investment! Also make sure that you stop basting a few minutes before you pull the meat off the grill since the marinade was in contact with raw meat.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

You can check the pork with a meat thermometer to be sure it’s done (145 degrees F), and remove it from the grill to let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

What’s great about cooking the pork char siu this way is that it stays really juicy, has that Chinatown char siu flavor and best of all, some nice char grilled flavor and yes, pun intended here!

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

Enjoy BBQ Char Siu on the grill and Happy Fourth of July!

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

BBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.comBBQ Char Siu on the Grill, by thewoksoflife.com

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