Sticky, fruity, sweet and salty. And comes together in 15 minutes. Can you guess what it is? Yes, it is the world-famous Char Siu sauce, which is also known as Chinese BBQ Sauce. Flavoured with ginger, garlic and Chinese five-spice, this is a versatile recipe to use as a sauce, a marinade or as an ingredient in Asian-style salad recipes!
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What is Char Siu Sauce?
Char Siu sauce, also known as Chinese BBQ sauce in the Western world, is possibly the most widely used Asian-style sauce. Fruity, sweet and salty, with just a little warmth coming from the ginger, it makes the most delicious sauce, dip or marinade for a range of meats! Typically made with hoisin sauce, Char Siu is fruity and has plum flavour embedded in it.
What is Chinese BBQ Sauce Used For?
Homemade BBQ Sauce is absolutely delicious used with a variety of meats, jackfruit or tofu:
- Use it as a sauce to coat your crispy chicken or pork.
- Tip it in with pulled chicken, beef or jackfruit and use it in burgers or bao buns.
- Use as a marinade for BBQ meats or tofu.
- Drizzle your duck and pancakes with homemade char siu instead of hoisin sauce.
- Use in Asian-style salad dressing (it goes extremely well with cabbage slaw)!
Ingredients in the Homemade Chinese BBQ Sauce Recipe
- garlic: we highly recommend using garlic cloves here for maximum flavour, but if you only have garlic paste, it will work too.
- ginger: we used about 30g of ginger in this sauce. Once peeled, chop the ginger very finely. Not only will the ginger add mild heat to the sauce, but it will also make the BBQ sauce look extra pretty with the little specs of ginger.
- hoisin sauce: by nature, hoisin sauce is rather sweet. However, these days you can get two general types of this delicious condiment: hoisin sauce or sweet hoisin sauce. If you are using the latter, I would recommend reducing the amount of sugar in this recipe, or even omitting it altogether.
- apple cider vinegar can be substituted with rice vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- soy sauce: both dark and light soy sauce will do the job, but choose light soy sauce for the slightly less salty Chinese BBQ Sauce.
- dark brown sugar: it adds the molasses-like flavour to the Char Siu Sauce, but if you’ve run out, you can substitute it with other types of sugar or even honey.
- Chinese 5 spice: for us, it is what makes the homemade Char Siu sauce what it is – deliciously Oriental!
Peel and finely chop the ginger. Mince the garlic. Add them to a small saucepan, followed by the hoisin and soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and Chinese five-spice. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
Once bubbling, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened.
Leave the sauce to cool down, or use hot to coat crispy chicken or pork.
Absolutely! This sauce is strong flavoured though and isn’t for the faint-hearted. However, you can use it as a dip for pretzels or even pizza crusts. We do recommend thickening the sauce a little more to be used as a dip. Simple mix 1/2 tsp of cornflour (cornstarch) with a tsp of water and stir it into the sauce after the sugar has dissolved. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken. It will thicken further as the sauce cools.
It can be! Make sure that the hoisin and soy sauce that you’re using in this recipe are gluten-free to make it celiac-friendly.
Chinese BBQ Sauce (Char Siu)
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 3 cm ginger very finely chopped
- 150 ml hoisin sauce
- 30 ml apple cider vinegar
- 100 ml soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- ¾ tsp Chinese five spice
- Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened.
- Leave the sauce to cool down, or use hot to coat crispy chicken or pork.