One of the great pleasures of barbecued meats is the crusty, tasty surface that results from direct exposure to the heat. The Chinese barbecue meats by hanging them in the oven. The fat drips off the meat into a pan of water at the bottom of the oven. The water serves two purposes: as a catchall for melting fat, and as a humidity-producing vehicle to prevent the meat from drying out.
Few Chinese homes have ovens, so barbecued pork is bought from stores that specialize in barbecuing, much as the French buy their pâtés and bread from charcuteries and boulangeries. Barbecued pork is a delicious appetizer and a common ingredient in soups, stir-fried dishes, and stuffings.
To maximize the amount of tasty surface area, we cut the pork into small strips and hang them in the oven so that air can circulate completely around them and brown them appetizingly. Barbecued Pork Strips can be made in advance; they also freeze well, so you can always have pork on hand when small amounts are called for in other recipes. Your own homemade pork strips needn’t be made with monosodium glutamate and red dye, which are often used in restaurants. The pork is marinated for 3 hours or overnight, then roasted, basted occasionally with a sweet glaze. Spareribs can be barbecued in exactly the same way, with the same marinade and the same glaze. Have your butcher saw off the thick, bony top of the rack, leaving you with ribs approximately equal in size. Other meats can be barbecued in the same manner—slices of beef, whole pork roasts, pieces of chicken or turkey, even whole game birds (but not domesticated duck). Large birds or roasts should marinate overnight in the refrigerator and should be turned several times to baste evenly.
© 1981 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.