Char Siu Sauce question

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dragnlaw

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I have a jar of Char Siu Sauce (chinese barbeque sauce), Lee Kum Kee. I have not opened the jar. I was going to use it on some ribs. I love my ribs dry and almost never use any traditional BBQ sauce - really find most of them too sweet and gaggy.
After discovering that tonkatsu is basically a sweet sauce like BBQ - I'm now hesitant to open this.
Can anyone try to describe the taste of Char Siu? I know taste is very subjective but I really don't want to ruin my ribs finding out it is gaggy! I thought it would be more like a wok sauce perhaps like Oyster/Black Bean/etc
 

pepperhead212

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I have never bought a Chinese BBQ sauce, but I would guess it is some sort of sweet and sour, and maybe some 5 spice powder added - a favorite addition of mine, to Chinese ribs.

What are the ingredients?
 

dragnlaw

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White Sugar, water, salt, garlic, fermented soybean paste (water, salt, soybean, wheat), honey, soy sauce (water, salt, soybean, wheat, glucose-fructose), malt syrup (rice, barley malt), modified corn starch, spices, acetic acid, caramel colour, allura red ac.

I think it is going to be sweet. Maybe I'll wait till feeding people who like regular type BBQ sauce.
 

GotGarlic

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I have a jar of the same stuff and I just tasted it. It's slightly sweet, a little sour, very savory with a tiny bitter finish. It's pretty complex. I really like it. I mixed it with pulled pork and served it on Hawaiian rolls with coleslaw; the slaw dressing was basically rice vinegar and a little soy sauce and toasted sesame oil (no recipe, made to taste). Very good.

If it's too sweet for your taste, you could add soy sauce or rice vinegar.
 

thymeless

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There is plenty of sugar in Cha Siu sauce. But also good bean flavors in support. Think Hoisin, Chee Hou and those kinds of flavors.
 

Badjak

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I find it on the sweet side, and use it as a marinade with extra garlic & lemon juice.
Then lemon or lime juice again on the finished product.
It stays good for a long time in the fridge after opening, so no reason not to taste
 

Silversage

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White Sugar, water, salt, garlic, fermented soybean paste (water, salt, soybean, wheat), honey, soy sauce (water, salt, soybean, wheat, glucose-fructose), malt syrup (rice, barley malt), modified corn starch, spices, acetic acid, caramel colour, allura red ac.

I think it is going to be sweet. Maybe I'll wait till feeding people who like regular type BBQ sauce.
When I lived in Ontario, I used to get ribs dry rubbed all the time at Tunnel BBQ. If that is what you are looking for, you won't be happy with the Char Sui. I've used that brand, and it is sweet compared to what you like. Notice that the first ingredient on your list is sugar - there is also honey - and malt has a hint of sweetness. It will remind you of other sweet sauces. Even though it has sour and savory elements, it is still a sugar forward sauce.
 

dragnlaw

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Thanks Silver, those are my thoughts exactly. Will see if my DIL would like it for.... whatever! She makes big batches of everything as leftovers become the next lunches for them to take to work or school.

I like GG's use for pulled pork. I do like pulled pork, but only ever made it for when family came. Never just for myself, gads, that would take me 2+ years to finish!
 

Andy M.

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If you like the "pork strips" with the red edges sold in many Chinese restaurants, you'll like the char siu.
 

GotGarlic

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Thanks Silver, those are my thoughts exactly. Will see if my DIL would like it for.... whatever! She makes big batches of everything as leftovers become the next lunches for them to take to work or school.

I like GG's use for pulled pork. I do like pulled pork, but only ever made it for when family came. Never just for myself, gads, that would take me 2+ years to finish!
LOL, you can make two or three pounds at a time, you know 😁 I often buy a six-or-so-pound pork shoulder and cut it in half to use in different ways.
 

dragnlaw

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Andy, can't remember last time I ate in a Chinese Restaurant. :blush: Hence my question as I don't think something like that would even have been on the menu waaaaay back then.

GG, yep, that's what I used to do too.
 

GotGarlic

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Andy, can't remember last time I ate in a Chinese Restaurant. :blush: Hence my question as I don't think something like that would even have been on the menu waaaaay back then.
That roasted pork has probably been on every Chinese menu since the Chinese first immigrated to North America and opened restaurants. It's the pork in pork fried rice and is available in other dishes as well.
 

Andy M.

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That roasted pork has probably been on every Chinese menu since the Chinese first immigrated to North America and opened restaurants. It's the pork in pork fried rice and is available in other dishes as well.
GG, When I first made pork fried rice, I bought an order pork strips from our favorite restaurant for the rice. I mentioned it was for pork fried rice I was making and was told to use boneless spare ribs instead because it would taste much better. That's what I've been doing and it works out great.
 

dragnlaw

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Well GG, it would have been more than 50 plus years ago. I don't think my taste buds would have been able to tell the difference at that time.

Fried rice was rice with little bits of meat in it and some vegies.
 

thymeless

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Depends where you where.

Craig Claiborne, food writer for the NYT at the time wrote a Chinese coobook published in 1976. It reads like a contemporary Chinese cookbook. Most books of the time didn't go beyond soy sauce. Ginger was a stretch.

Ken Lo's books for English audiences were super simplified at the time even though he knew how and where to get the real ingredients. His later books are excellent, he even gets mentioned in Breath of a Wok.

So NYC at least was exposing people to high grade Chinese cuisine that long ago even if most other authors wrote for the mainstream grocer of the time.
 

dragnlaw

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LOL, thymeless.... my teenage years were gone. By '76 I was on my 2nd marriage and expecting my 4th child. Eating out was very very rare!
 

GotGarlic

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Well GG, it would have been more than 50 plus years ago. I don't think my taste buds would have been able to tell the difference at that time.

Fried rice was rice with little bits of meat in it and some vegies.
Chinese people began immigrating to the United States in the 1850s because of the California gold rush and were only allowed to run businesses like laundries and restaurants. I don't know about their history in Canada. I'm pretty sure that predates you, dragn ;)
 

dragnlaw

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You're right GG. My mother might even have flown a few Chinese people over the ocean. Think I remember my mom saying she got grounded for 5 years by grandma over that breach of conduct.
 

pepperhead212

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Depends where you where.

Craig Claiborne, food writer for the NYT at the time wrote a Chinese coobook published in 1976. It reads like a contemporary Chinese cookbook. Most books of the time didn't go beyond soy sauce. Ginger was a stretch...

So NYC at least was exposing people to high grade Chinese cuisine that long ago even if most other authors wrote for the mainstream grocer of the time.
Funny you should mention that CB - by Virginia Lee and Craig Claiborne - the first Chinese CB I got, as there really weren't many then! I did find a few recipes in that which I use to this day, with my own tweaks, of course. Some are the dough for jao-tse, and one of their fillings, but one I have used probably as many times as any other Chinese recipe I have made is the dip sauce, for the jao-tse - most are bland, and mostly soy, but that is potent! However - and this is something he did, not her, I'm sure - the vinegar, in their version, as well as every other recipe in the book with vinegar, called for red wine vinegar! They said that this was because most people wouldn't be able to find the Chinese vinegar, which was probably true, back then, unless you were in or near a large city with a Chinese market or two. NYC is where I would stock up on my Chinese, as well as many other ingredients, back then. Even Philly didn't have a lot of things back then, besides Italian ingredients.
 
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