Char siu is a great Chinese dish that you can make at home, and there are many different ways to do it. You can serve it with rice, noodles, or even in a bun like a hot dog. However, the best way to enjoy char siu is by pairing it with the right side dishes. Here are 15 of the best side dishes for char siu that you can easily replicate at home.
- What Is Char Siu?
- Why Consider Serving Side Dishes for Char Siu?
- What to Serve with Char Siu? 15 BEST Side Dishes
- 1. Chinese snow peas and water chestnuts
- 2. Soy sauce chicken wings
- 3. Fried shiitake mushrooms
- 4. Fried tofu and soy sauce
- 5. Tofu braised in a clay pot
- 6. Sweet Potatoes
- 7. Fried Rice
- 8. Stir-fried Rice Vermicelli
- 9. Stir-fried bok choi
- 10. Stir-fried choy sum
- 11. Stir-fried Green Beans
- 12. Kailan with garlic
- 13. Gai lan with garlic
- 14. Roast duck
- 15. Roasted suckling pig
What Is Char Siu?
Char Siu is a type of Chinese barbecued pork. The name comes from the Cantonese language and means fork roast, referring to how the meat is cooked on long forks over an open fire. It’s also known as char siew or chasu.
The dish is very popular in Hong Kong, where it’s found at most Chinese restaurants and street side dai pai dongs (open-air food stalls). In addition to being served on its own with rice, it’s also used in many other dishes, including in fried rice and buns.
Char siu is made by marinating pork tenderloin or loin with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, honey, maltose sugar and red food coloring (to give it the distinctive red color). The meat is then hung to dry before being roasted. Since marinated pork tenderloin isn’t readily available in most parts of the world outside of Asia, this recipe uses boneless pork loin as a substitute.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes for Char Siu?
Char siu is an irresistible entree option. It’s a juicy, tender meat that’s been marinated and grilled to perfection, resulting in a mouthwatering pork dish that you can serve at any meal. If you want to experience the most out of this Asian-inspired meal, though, you should consider serving it with side dishes. Here are some reasons why you should think about adding sides to your char siu dish:
1. You Can Make a Full Meal Out of It
If you’re craving char siu but don’t want to spend much time cooking, you can make it the centerpiece of your dinner table by serving it with various side dishes. For example, if you choose to serve rice pilaf with your char siu, then all you have to do is make enough food for the number of people who are eating. Serving side dishes also means that your guests will have a lot more options when they’re filling up their plates.
2. It Will Become More Palatable
Char siu is generally sweet and spicy enough to be eaten on its own; however, not everyone has the same palate as others. If your guests don’t enjoy the sweet taste of char siu or if they prefer food that’s not fried or spicy, then they will appreciate if you serve them side dishes alongside the meat. There are other foods that are very similar to char siu, but your guests will still enjoy them more if they’re served with side dishes.
3. It Will Help Your Guests Savor Their Meal
While most people love the taste of char siu, there are some that aren’t fond of it. If you’re one of these individuals, then you should consider offering your guests side dishes so that they have a wide variety to choose from when picking their meal.
What to Serve with Char Siu? 15 BEST Side Dishes
1. Chinese snow peas and water chestnuts
Chinese snow peas and water chestnuts are popular side dishes for char siu. These vegetables have a mild taste that pairs well with the bold, sweet flavor of char siu. In addition to making sure that your side dish selections complement the flavor of your char siu, you should also consider how much time you want to spend preparing your meal. Some side dishes require more preparation and cooking than others. Consider whether you want to make a simple meal, such as steamed snow peas and water chestnuts, or opt for something more complex like stir-fried soy sauce chicken wings.
2. Soy sauce chicken wings
Soy sauce chicken wings are already a favorite dish in many parts of the world. The tender meat and crisp skin pair perfectly with a flavorful sauce made from soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger. The chicken wings can be easily prepared by frying them in a pan or by baking them in the oven. Serve them with rice as part of an Asian-style meal, or simply as an appetizer for guests to enjoy.
3. Fried shiitake mushrooms
Fried mushrooms are another delicious side dish to go with char siu. Shiitake mushrooms are commonly used in Asia because they have a delicate yet meaty flavor. Shiitake mushrooms can be found at most Asian markets and some grocery stores. To prepare the mushrooms, boil them in water for about 10 minutes to remove any dirt or grit that may be on them. Drain the mushrooms, cut off the stems, and then toss them in cornstarch so they become slightly coated. Heat up some oil in a wok or frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry until they become crispy and golden brown on the outside. You can also add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Fried tofu and soy sauce
Fried tofu squares are perfect for char siu. The dish has a soft texture that pairs well with the tenderness of the meat. You can make your own fried tofu or buy it already prepared at an Asian market based on how much time you want to spend preparing your meal. To serve fried tofu as a side dish, cut it into bite-sized pieces and arrange them on a plate with soy sauce for dipping.
5. Tofu braised in a clay pot
Tofu braised in a clay pot (also known as claypot tofu) is a Chinese dish that is an excellent complement to any meat dish. It’s made by cooking tofu with mushrooms, ginger and garlic in a soy sauce based broth. This gives the tofu a savory flavor that pairs well with the sweet taste of char siu.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamins, and they have a comforting sweetness that balances out the saltiness of Char Siu. You can roast them whole in cinnamon butter or make candied sweet potatoes by frying sliced sweet potatoes in a mixture of sugar and butter.
7. Fried Rice
Fried rice is always a good standby for any Chinese dish. Fried rice can be made with either white or brown rice (or even mixed-grain rice), but we recommend brown rice because it has more fiber and will fill you up faster than white rice. If you don’t have any on hand, though, use whatever you have. you can even use leftover food! Just make sure to cook the egg first so it doesn’t get soggy while you’re cooking the other ingredients.
8. Stir-fried Rice Vermicelli
Stir-fried rice vermicelli is another good option for those who want to add a little more heartiness to their meals. Vegetables are a common ingredient in this dish, which means that it is not only tasty but also nutritious. You can also add meat or seafood, such as shrimps or squid, if you want to increase the protein content of your meal even further.
9. Stir-fried bok choi
While you can simply steam the bok choi and eat it plain, stir-frying the vegetable is a great way to add flavor and make it more substantial. You might want to consider adding some ginger or garlic to the mix depending on your preference. Also, don’t forget to drizzle some oyster sauce over the top!
10. Stir-fried choy sum
Another vegetable that goes well with Char Siu is choy sum, which you can also stir fry with garlic or ginger to taste. Because this vegetable has an almost bitter taste on its own, you may wish to add a bit of sugar to temper the bitterness.
11. Stir-fried Green Beans
Green beans are a great side dish for char siu because the light, crunchy texture of the beans contrasts well with the tenderness of the meat. You can use fresh or frozen green beans in this recipe, and it’ll be ready in under half an hour. Feel free to customize this recipe by adding ingredients like sliced mushrooms or onions, as long as you keep the cooking times in mind.
12. Kailan with garlic
Kailan is a type of Chinese broccoli that is similar to broccoli rabe but with smaller florets and longer stems. In the US, it is sometimes called Chinese kale. It can be used interchangeably with broccoli rabe for this recipe, just note that the cooking time will be longer because of the thick stem. The stem should be removed before serving unless you prefer eating it with the stem.
13. Gai lan with garlic
Gai lan with garlic is a great pairing for char siu. This green vegetable is also known as Chinese broccoli, and it’s usually the go-to vegetable to accompany the meat in dim sum restaurants. The crisp stalks and greens are tasty when combined with the garlic sauce, but they also help to cleanse the palate so you can keep enjoying all that juicy pork flavor. If you can’t find gai lan at your local market, try bok choy or Chinese kale instead.
14. Roast duck
Another great side dish for char siu is roast duck. Char siu originated as a way of preparing game birds, so why not combine it with another bird? Roast duck is traditionally served with pancakes, hoisin sauce, and scallions, but you can leave off these garnishes and make an entirely different dish by serving it alongside roast pork. This pairing is especially good if your char siu recipe calls for red bean curd in the marinade. The creamy sweetness of the curd complements the rich flavor of duck beautifully.
15. Roasted suckling pig
Roast suckling pig is a common dish in many Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines. A whole pig is roasted over fire, often with a layer of fat under the skin, giving it a crackly, buttery perfection. This dish pairs well with many side dishes, including steamed or stir-fried greens.
In the end, the best way to find out what to serve with Char Siu is by trying out different combinations yourself. If you’re throwing a party or serving it at a potluck, you can even encourage your guests to bring their own favorite pairings. Whichever side dishes you choose, you’ll end up with a delicious meal that’s healthy for your body and your wallet.