Char Siu pork ribs and riblets

I decided to buy spare ribs instead of the normal baby back ribs I usually smoke. One of the reasons is that I planned on trimming them St Louis Style and then using the off cuts to make Char Siu riblets.

 I had experimented with Char Siu on a recent Chinese-food-making foray, but wanted to refine the recipe.

Refine nothing! I found the recipe I'll use from now on, thanks to Jessica Gavin on her Test Kitchen site. While I substituted some of the ingredients I didn't have (Sherry for the Mirin Wine and a bit of sesame oil in the marinade instead of Sesame Paste or Tahini) and a different cut of meat, this recipe turned out sticky, savory and sweet and as good as I have had in any restaurant. I have reproduced the recipe below, but I'd encourage you to follow the link above or below, read her tips and definitions and give her a thumbs up.


Traditional Cantonese style barbeque pork recipe (Char siu). Roasted to perfection with savory and sweet Chinese spices and flavors.

Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour 50 mins
Serves: 4

  • 1 ½ pounds pork loin or shoulder (trimmed weight) 
  • ¼ cup honey 
  • 2 tablespoons mirin wine (Aji-Mirin sweet cooking rice seasoning) 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil 

  • ¼ cup dry sherry (Shaoxing or sake if sherry not available) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame paste (Tahini may be substituted) 
  • 1 tablespoons black bean paste (or black bean and garlic sauce) 
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 


1. Use off cuts from the spare ribs or trim fat and silver skin from your chosen meat and cut into 2 X 2 X 10 inch strips.

2. Combine all marinade ingredients; mix well. Add pork and toss to cover with the marinade. Cover and set a room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate 3 hours, or overnight. Either use a ziploc bag or turn every 30 minutes or so.

3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place a roasting rack on top of a sheet pan lined with foil. Place the pork on top of the roasting rack. Roast the meat in the center rack of the oven for (40 minutes).

4. Turn oven to 450°F. Mix the honey and mirin. Brush the strips of pork with the honey mixture, then sesame oil. Roast 5 minutes, then turn the strips over, brush the other side of the meat. Roast additional 5 minutes.

5. The meat should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 135-140°F is reached.

6. Serve the char siu with your favorite vegetables and white rice.

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