Aun Koh’s Char Siu using Sous-vide

Serves: 4 – 8 depending on serving size

Nat and I cooked this 6 years ago and neither of us has forgotten it.

It’s by a blogger Aun Koh who clearly loves his food and travel. Great photography and attention to detail.

He is a total sous-vide snob and whilst he loves pork belly, pork neck is his go-to for being a leaner cut.

Essentially, marinate for 36 hours and then sous-vide for 24 hours. Glaze and cook in the oven on a temperature high enough that the door falls off.

And that’s it. Just add rice.

And OMG. After that sous-vide, this is a meal you’re going to remember.

A few years back, Nat and I did a bonkers 5-star trip to Hong Kong sans kids. We ate like kings and a meal that we often reference was at Tin Lung Heen. Two Michelin stars, 102nd floor of The Ritz Carlton.

Excellent.
Nat: even more excellent.
The char-siu was very good.

Very unassuming as I am sure you can imagine.

Anyway, they have a char siu that must be preordered; which of course I did, having reviewed the menu weeks out.

And look, the whole experience was pretty amazing. The walk through the black and golden wine cellar on the way to the bathroom is dazzling just in-and-of itself.

And sure, the char siu was excellent. Amazing. Though not as good as this recipe.

Ingredients

1kg Berkshire or Kurobuta pork neck
Rice to serve

Marinade

6 spring onions, sliced into 4cm lengths and smashed
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 tbsp regular soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
3 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rich chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil

Finishing sauce (enough for 2 strips)

1 tsp salt
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp honey

Method

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
  2. Cut the pork lengthways into strips around 5 – 6cm wide and 1 – 2cm thick. Cut strips crosswise if needed into pieces 12 inches long. (Photo below to illustrate.) Place into a large baking dish that can accommodate all the pork in one layer. Pout the marinade over the pork. Seal with dish with cling wrap overnight, at least 12 hours and up to 36 hours. Turn the pork a few times during the marinating process. Keep in the fridge.
  3. Prepare your sous-vide and bring the water to 58c.
  4. Place each piece of pork, with some marinade, into a vacuum-sealable bag and seal at high pressure.
  5. Drop the bags into the water bath and cook for 24 hours. Once done, prepare an ice water bath and plunge the bags of pork directly into the ice water. Once cool, dry off the bags and liberate (love this word!) your pork, and move to the final stage of finishing off the pork.
  6. Mix the finishing sauce. (From experience, you cannot have too much.) Taste, it should be salty-sweet.
  7. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it can go. Pour some water into a roasting pan. Over the pan, place a large wire rack that fits over the top of the pan.
  8. Brush as much of the finishing sauce onto the strips of pork. You want it thick. Lay the pork on the wire rack (and over the water in the roasting pan). Pop this in the oven for 10 minutes or until the surface of the char siu is nicely charred.

    (Use a blow torch instead.)
Here you go. Achieve this and you’ve won.