Normally, I really enjoy cooking but once in a while when I have too much going on in other areas of my life, it really starts to take a back seat and I don’t give enough time to prepare and think about our meals. When you have many mouths to feed, this isn’t the best way to operate but at times it’s reality. These are the instances when you need a handful of recipes that you can pull out of your back pocket so it’s always good to have the main ingredients on hand.
This recipe is quick, easy, requires no thinking, kid friendly and still tastes good. That is asking a lot isn’t it. Well, luckily just as there are a variety of packaged and pre-made sauces for Western foods, there are just as many for Asian foods. One of these is the char sui sauce which comes in a powder form sold in a packet or in a thick sauce that comes in a glass jar. Char sui is Chinese barbecue, the pinkish red slices of pork that you often see in noodle dishes. While living in Singapore I was introduced to the Lee Kum Kee brand Char Sui Sauce by my Hong Kong Chinese girlfriend and have been a fan ever since. It sure makes life easier.
This is what it looks like.
The Lee Kum Kee is now an international brand, so I believe it can be found fairly easily in an Asian grocery. Where I live, the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., it can be found in your local supermarkets too, yes, it’s that common. The label may look different depending on where you live. Some will say Chinese Char Sui Sauce above the (Barbecue Sauce) below, so just be aware of this.
For today’s recipe, we are going to make the Char Sui with pork butt in a slow cooker. It ‘s best if you can marinate the pork in the sauce overnight in a ziploc bag but when you haven’t had the foresight to do that, don’t worry, it’s still doable. The main thing is not to stress yourself out.
- Pork butt 2-2½ lbs.
- char sui sauce - I use ½ a 14 oz. jar, or you can use the whole 8.5 oz. jar
- japanese sake or chinese wine - 3 tablespoons
- (Depending on the number of people and their appetites, you may wish to double the recipe - the meat really shrinks)
- Marinate the pork overnight with the char sui sauce in a ziploc bag and try to remove as much air as possible.
- The following day, place the meat and all the sauce in the slow cooker and add the rice wine and cover.
- Press the slow cook for 8 slow hours.
- If you haven't had the time to marinate, just coat the pork with the char sui sauce and add the rice wine and press the 8 slow hours - the flavors will still have time to be absorbed in those 8 slow hours.
Once done, it has enough gravy in the pot to keep the meat moist. Separate with a fork and remove as much fat as possible. If time permits and you want to eat it the following day, put it in the refrigerator and the fat will harden. This way, you can get rid of all the excess fat easily. Enjoy the Char Sui with rice and a salad for a quick meal or in a bun with lots of fresh cilantro for a Chinese pulled pork version.