Char Siu/Cha Shao Sous Vide

Note: this post was started over a week ago, but I didn’t get around to finishing it because I was having trouble uploading the final image from the WordPress App on my iPhone…

The experiments with ribs made me think about trying one of my¬†other favorite forms of BBQ pork: Char Siu, aka Cha Shao. We called it the latter at home growing up, as my parents spoke Mandarin Chinese, even though the pork we got from San Francisco’s Chinatown was probably Cantonese in origin.

I bought a 5.25 lb frozen pork shoulder at Rosenthal. After thawing it enough to get my knife through it, I cut it into strips about 1.5 inches wide/thick. These went into a marinade of semi-random stuff based on what was on hand, what is in various online recipes, and what I used for ribs. In no particular order and without proper measuring:


  • Brown sugar
  • Miso paste
  • Garlic powder
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sherry
  • Water
  • Star anise, Cinnamon, fennel, ground cloves, Szechuan peppercorns (we are out of 5-spice powder).

This was used to marinate the strips in the fridge starting at about 2PM Sunday.

I took the meat out of the fridge and bagged it for cooking at 136F starting at about 11:30AM on Monday, after a conference call. This is a lot of meat! I had to use two bags and remove some water to keep the level below the max line on the Nomiku.
I boiled the remaining marinade and stashed in in case I can think of another use before it goes off. Mixed some of the marinade with honey and basted the meat with the mix while broiling it to brown the surfaces. Froze some of the meat and used slices for stir fry. The marinade and the honey gave it a pretty nice flavor, but it lacked the red color of Chinatown Char Siu.