Monday, June 10, 2013

Char Siu Pork and some thoughts on Marinating

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. – Helen Keller

Red tinged and as aromatic as it is tasty.

Char siu is Chinese marinated, roasted meat – that red-dyed stuff you see hanging from shop windows in your local Chinatown. 

The actual term means “fork roast” in Cantonese. Usually it is long pieces of pork that are spit roasted over an open fire.

It smells delicious and tastes the same. But how to make it at home can open up a hornet nest of marinating do’s and don’ts. Many old recipes (and I bet the authentic Chinese ones, too) call for marinating for a short period “on the counter.”

I agree it is best to marinate overnight in the ‘fridge, but marinating on the counter cuts the time by hours and hours, and I didn’t have all night.

If you want your ribs redder add more food colouring.
You can read in a thousand places about the dangers of marinating unrefrigerated – many from people regurgitating (sometimes verbatim) the warnings of government health departments. Government will always err on the side of caution. It’s their job to keep us as safe as possible. Or at least it’s supposed to be...

So they state always (without exception, upon penalty of death – possibly inflicted by your meat) marinate in the refrigerator. But is it that cut and dried?

Of course bacteria can grow on meat left out too long on a counter. But if you use common sense (remember that trait?) , I personally think you’re OK. 

I class this “refrigerate only” information sort of the same as “always use hand sanitizer.” That stuff is everywhere, and I believe is causing us to become more susceptible to pathogens that hardly bothered our grandparents. Or worse, making bacteria and germs tougher since only the really heinous ones survive our attempts at eradication.

In our sanitized world I’m surprised children live past the age of 6. We’re supposed to almost keep them sterile. How often have we heard “Did you read about the new pandemic that’s supposed to be coming? It’s some tougher strain of...” They don’t drop from the sky.

Government health departments at one time or another also told us margarine (with high trans-fats) was better for us than butter, eggs were/are bad for you (their opinion changes with the day of the week), GMO crops are fine, artificial sweeteners were a healthy substitute for sugar, tomatoes are a vegetable (they’re NOT), etc...

Speaking of GMOs, several EU states have “safeguard clauses” that allow them to ban GMO foods from their countries. The United States has embraced them whole hog – to the extent that between 60-70% of all processed foods contain GMO ingredients. Almost all the multinationals that make GMOs are located in the US. Canada and China are two other countries on the bandwagon, so we’re no safer from them.

Interestingly, only 52% of Americans even know GMOs are in the corner grocery and only 26% believe they may have ever eaten them – ever. GMOs are present in most animal feed, so what they eat we eat.

These same government organizations that want us to sterilize our environments find it acceptable for us to go into a fast food shop and eat more than half our day’s worth of calories (mostly from fat and sugar) and more than a day’s sodium in a pop, burger and fries.

I'm not looking forward to cleaning this pan...
This is my opinion only and disagree if you wish, but use some common sense. Just make sure you don’t leave meat on the counter for more than two hours or in direct sunlight. Chicken should be outside refrigeration 1 hour at the absolute maximum. But it all depends on your marinade ingredients, too.

Here’s a couple reasons why I think you’re safe with this marinade. Honey is an antibacterial. Cooking wine and soy are acidic. Both inhibit the growth of bacteria – as opposed to leaving a pork chop on the counter in mid-summer heat. Acids have been used for centuries to inhibit bacterial growth and preserve foods longer.

This marinade can be used on other cuts besides pork ribs as well. It imparts a real “Chinese pork” taste.

One word of advice: never marinate in a metal pan. Those same acids may react with the cookware, causing unwanted flavours, or worse – if your pan’s not in tip-top shape – transfer of metals into the food.

Use your brain about marinating. We all have one, of varying sizes. My meat is marinating on the counter as I write. If I have posted this it didn’t kill me.

Char Siu Pork Ribs
Prep: 2 hrs  |  Broil: 6-7 minutes per side  |  Serves 4
2 lbs pork ribs, cut into serving pieces
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp hoisin
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
6 drops red food colouring

Mix together the marinade ingredients with a whisk. Coat the pork and either refrigerate overnight or leave on the counter for 1.5 to 2 hours maximum. Turn at least once during marination. Its easier if you marinate in a zip-lock bag.

Remove the pork from the marinade and place in a pan or on a broiler pan. Broil, about 8-10” away from the heat until caramelized on both sides. You can also do this on a barbecue.

I made pineapple rice as a side dish. Garlic, ginger, green pepper and onion were softened in a little oil. Then rice, pineapple chunks, soy and water were added and cooked as you would white rice.

A veritable feast!


You know, I really like comments... I really do.

Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer quickly and as best as I can. If you like this post feel free to share it. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site.

No comments:

Post a Comment