Site icon Titanium-22 |

Review of char siu sauces/mix


Vietnamese version (bản tiếng Việt): click here!

Char siu BBQ is originate from Chinese cuisine. It has a sweet and salty taste, together with a characteristic red color and beautiful aroma that has made them one of the savory dishes. In Vietnam, we call it “xá xíu” and it is usually served with hot rice, stir-fry noodle or wonton (dumplings) soup. Note that there is another type of char siu pork adapted by Japanese cuisine, which we usually see in ramen. It is different from the Chinese type as the Japanese char siu pork doesn’t have the red color and five-spice powder. However, in this post, I would focus on the Chinese type, and give some short reviews on the char siu marinades that are available in Asian/American grocery stores.

Technically, you can make the char siu marinade from scratch, and tons of recipes out there can help you with that. However, there is 1 ingredient that I’m a little bit afraid of: fermented red bean curd, which gives the natural red color of the char siu. Therefore, I was searching for alternatives and premix sauces. In Arizona where I live, as far as I know, there are 3 brands of char siu sauces/mix: NOH Char siu mix, Private selection® Char siu BBQ sauce and Lee Kum Kee Char siu sauce (photos above).

The table below summarizes all I mentioned above, just in case you don’t want to read long texts. Why I mention vegan/vegetarian in the table? Because there are some recipes out there trying to make char siu tofu, which I think would be interesting to try, so I include it here and you can know which suit your style better.

Summary of comparison
NOH Char siu mixPrivate selection®
Char siu BBQ sauce
Lee Kum Kee
Char siu sauce
Vegan/VegetarianYesVegetarian only, not vegan (contains honey)Vegetarian only, not vegan (contains honey)
TypePowderFluidic brown sauceThick red sauce
Product after cooking (following the instruction on package)– Pink;
– Smell good
– Plain taste (Does not taste like char siu BBQ)
– Brown
– Smell good (but not close to char siu BBQ aroma)
– 60% close to char siu BBQ taste
– Bright red
– Smell good (100% like char siu BBQ)
– 90% close to char siu BBQ taste
Can we modify it to have better taste? – Yes!– Don’t add water like in the instructions
– Adjust the marinade with soy sauce, HOISIN sauce, honey/sugar and red food coloring
– Adjust the marinade lightly with soy sauce, HOISIN sauce, honey/sugar and red food coloring– Don’t have to but if needed, mix some honey to the sauce prior brush it on the grilled meat

Another fun situation is that I tried to fix the baked chicken marinated with NOH char siu mix by making a basting sauce from the Private Selection® Char siu sauce, honey, soy sauce and a drop of red food coloring. The result is that I was able to “shift” the color from pink to more red (like in the photo below) but still some pink residues remained, and the chicken did taste better, rather than the plain taste of the original.

A salad bowl with char siu chicken marinate from NOH Char siu mix and adjusted with Private Selection® Char siu sauce, honey, soy sauce and red food coloring. The taste wasn’t bold enough to eat with hot rice so I had the chicken in salad instead.

And… that’s it! Hope you enjoy and if you’ve tried any of these sauces/mix, let me know what you think!

Exit mobile version