Perhaps one of the most enticing smells in the whole repertoire of Chinese cooking is that of ‘Chahsiu’ (Cantonese roast pork), with its subtle blend of spices and roast meat. It floats out to meet you as you pass a cooked-meat stall, where the shiny sides of roast pork wait to be chopped into small pieces and sold either to be taken home or eaten on the spot with a bowl of boiled rice. Not only are sides of pork roasted but also ducks, geese and, for special occasions, sucking pigs. ‘Chahsiu’ is eaten cold in a family meal, along with hot dishes; in a more formal meal it can be part of a plate of mixed cold meats. Several pieces of chahsiu on a bowl of rice together with a few stalks of choisam and tea to drink can often comprise lunch for a working man in a street restaurant in Hong Kong. In China it is not usual to roast meat at home, but in the Western kitchen equipped with an oven, it is quite easy to make ‘chahsiu’.
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. each
4 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
3 tbsp. rice wine or dry sherry
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tsp. honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
Stir together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sherry, oil, honey and garlic; mix well.
Place tenderloins in a shallow dish. Pour soy mixture over meat, turning so that they are well coated. Cover and let marinate refrigerated, for 3 hours, turning every 30 minutes.
Remove meat from marinade and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast in a 425°F oven for 10 minutes. Brush on all sides with marinade, turn over and roast 15 minutes longer or to desired doneness (may take longer if not at room temperature when ready to roast).
Cut in 1/4 inch thick slices and serve with extra marinade.
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