Five-ingredient marinade + easy-to-find pork tenderloin makes for easy char siu pork tenderloin!
Have you ever had char siu? Char siu is a Chinese style of barbecue pork. The finished pork is sticky, sweet, tangy, and absolutely delicious in ways that American-style barbecued pork is not. If you are a fan of either barbecue pork or Chinese food, you need to try this recipe!
The key to this recipe is a long marinade in a traditional marinade, followed by a slow cook, and finished with a glaze to make the pork perfect!
While char siu is becoming more popular in the Midwest as we learn more about different Chinese cuisines, we are guessing you may not be familiar with the recipe. Here are answers to a few questions you may have about this dish.
What ingredients are used in the Char Siu marinade?
This simple five-ingredient marinade comes together beautifully to cover almost all of the basic flavors: sweet, salty, and savory.
Here’s our marinade and an explanation of what each ingredient brings to the dish:
- Hoisin sauce. Hoisin is a thick sauce made from fermented soybean paste that has savory, sweet, and salty flavors. It brings a big deal of savory base to this recipe. If you can’t find it in your local store, you can buy quality hoisin online using our Amazon affiliate link here.
- Soy sauce. We all know soy sauce. It’s salty, savory, and delicious. Soy sauce will thin out the hoisin sauce so the marinade evenly covers the pork, and bring salty highlights to our char siu pork tenderloin.
- Honey. With all of the salty flavors in the dish, we need some sweetness to balance the marinade. Honey is a naturally delicious sweetener that fits in perfectly with this dish. Some recipes call for white sugar, but we prefer honey!
- Five Spice Powder. This traditional Chinese seasoning blend has star anise, clove, cinnamon, fennel, and pepper. It brings a touch of spice and savory aromas to the dish. It’s becoming easier to find this mix in stores, but you can also buy online using our Amazon affiliate link here.
- Sesame Oil. Finally, sesame oil helps coat the meat evenly and brings a more authentic Chinese flavor to the recipe than using vegetable or olive oil. The nutty flavor is a pleasant accompaniment to the pork!
This recipe can be modified to add chili flakes or garlic (minced or powder) to the marinade as well if you like a spicy version or a garlicky version. Some people even add a few drops of red food coloring to give the marinade a lovely bright red hue!
We think the balance in the five simple ingredients is a perfect starting place, but feel free to taste the marinade and adjust to your taste from there.
Can I use other cuts of pork instead of tenderloin?
Believe it or not, pork tenderloin isn’t the most popular choice of pork when making char siu.
We like using pork tenderloin because as a certified lean cut of pork, it has a more delicate flavor than other cuts of pork, so we think it shows off the flavor of the marinade more readily.
Another benefit of using pork tenderloin to make char siu is that the cylindrical shape means no part of the inside of the pork is far away from an outside surface that has been coated with marinade!
However, many recipes for char siu pork like to use fattier cuts of pork that shred instead of slice. These cuts are often less expensive than pork tenderloin as well. These cuts include:
- Pork belly – a very popular choice!
- Pork shoulder – very affordable and perfect to shred.
- Pork loin – a lean cut, but more affordable than tenderloin.
These cuts will take extended cooking time, but can be used with the same marinade and basic method described in this recipe.
Can I make Char Siu Pork tenderloin in a slow cooker?
Our char siu pork tenderloin recipe can easily be made in a slow cooker with a few changes:
- You will need to double the marinade recipe.
- Use all of the marinade to marinate the pork overnight.
- Dump all of the marinade and pork into a slow cooker and let it cook for 4 hours on high.
- Shred the pork in the slow cooker and mix with sauce.
This set-it-and-forget-it method of cooking char siu pork tenderloin is perfect when you have a party coming up and want to take the stress out of cooking!
Can I cook this char siu pork tenderloin using a sous vide cooker?
If you love cooking using a sous vide cooker, this is the perfect recipe to cook sous vide! The pork will become incredibly tender and soak in all of the flavors of the marinade.
Here’s how to cook sous vide char siu pork:
- Seal each pork tenderloin in an individual bag with a third of the marinade.
- Let the pork sit in the refrigerator over night to marinade.
- Cook for 8 hours at 165ºF.
- Remove from the vacuum bag, place on a sheet pan, brush with the remaining marinade and broil for about 3 minutes until the sauce caramelizes.
- Slice and serve!
How do you serve your char siu pork tenderloin?
We served the char siu pork tenderloin on top of rice with a crunchy Asian broccoli slaw. It was delicious!
Serving the char siu pork with steamed or roasted vegetables like broccoli, baby bok choi, or get fancy and serve broccolini.
The meat can also be used as an ingredient to use as stuffing for dumplings or bao buns, it can be stirred into fried rice, or served as part of a stir-fry.
I loved this char siu pork tenderloin! Do you have other recipes to recommend?
We hope that answered all of your questions about our easy char siu pork tenderloin recipe. If you have more questions, or if you made alterations to the recipe, please let us know by leaving a comment below.
We appreciate your feedback and hope to see you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!
- 2 lb LGCM Pork Tenderloin (2 pieces)
- 3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1 tsp Five Spice Powder
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
Make your char siu mariande by adding all of the marinade ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisking them together. Taste the char siu and adjust to your preference. More honey will make the marinade sweeter, while more hoisin will make the marinade more savory and bold.
Place the pork tenderloins in a sealable plastic bag and pour 2/3 of the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and work the marinade onto all surfaces of the pork. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator and save the remaining marinade to use while cooking.
After the char siu pork tenderloin marinades, remove it from the bag and place on a baking sheet. We recommend lining the sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
Brush the pork with half of the remaining marinade and put it into an oven preheated to 425ºF. Roast for 15 minutes then remove and brush the pork tenderloins with the remaining char siu marinade.
Turn the broiler to high and cook for approximately five more minutes until the pork reaches 165ºF.
Once the pork is done cooking, remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes, and then slice into thin pieces. Serve over rice and enjoy a heavenly meal of char siu pork tenderloin!