Why You Should Make Char Siu Pork In Your Air Fryer

Air fryers have revolutionized home cooking, and the list of air fryer recipes you can bring to life with one of these machines is sure to inspire your weekly menu. You can air fry bananas for a sweet morning meal and get in an easy serving of fruit. You can crisp up some broccoli or chickpeas without the added fats from oils. If you're really feeling creative, pop some cheese ravioli in there for a healthier take on the typical pan-fried cooking method, or whip up some juicy handheld apple pies. You can even cook meat in an air fryer, like chicken breasts, turkey breasts, pork chops, and even meatloaf. One meat you may or may not have considered air frying is char siu, a Cantonese sweet-and-savory barbecue pork with a chewy texture and smoky flavor.

Over 3,000 years ago in the Zhou dynasty, an era when menus tended to feature various iterations of grill and barbeque recipes, the term "char siu" first appeared in royal recipe books (per South China Morning Post). Char siu is unlike any barbecue from western countries, and the marinade is key to achieving the dish's distinct flavor. The most common ingredients may include white pepper, fermented bean curd, oyster sauce, soy sauce, corn syrup, and five-spice powder, which packs a punch through a combination of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel. The oyster sauce punctures the meat with a rich umami flavor (per Vancouver Sun).

The air fryer saves time on this labor-intensive dish

Instead of hanging the pork on a special fork and placing it in the oven for roasting, save yourself some time and clean up by making char siu in the air fryer. You may have some reservations about putting raw meat in an air fryer. Sure, maybe you can't stuff a whole chicken in there, but according to Air Fryer Market, allowing the air fryer to preheat to at least 350 degrees Fahrenheit can kill any viruses and ensure that you won't accidentally give anyone food poisoning. Air frying char siu pork might be a lot easier than cooking chicken in one.

All you need to do is break down pork butt or shoulder into pieces and trim any excess fat off. Once you've made your aromatic marinade — or opted for a store-bought version — let the meat soak up the flavors for at least 8 hours. When you're ready to cook, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, simply add the meat and baste the char siu with the marinade to avoid drying out the meat. Once you've sprayed a bit of cooking oil over the top, cook the pork for 10 minutes, then flip the meat, and repeat the process. Before you know it, you've prepared a ​​slightly chewy, juicy, and vibrant char siu ready to be served over steamed sticky rice or sautéed vegetables.