The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Thu Mar 15, 2012

Smoked Pork Belly Marinated In Char Siu Sauce

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Char Siu Pork Belly

Dealing with three weeks of a mini veggie-wave deserves a grand reward. In my opinion, can't get much more grand than this—a whole smoked pork belly. Swimming a sea of luscious and flavorful fat, this isn't everyday eats, but for a special occasion like the enduring a prolonged exploration of vegetables on a site call "The Meatwave," it's my best offering to make you feel at home once again.

Char Siu Pork Belly

This was my first pork belly I've done in the smoker. Taking the mantra "go big or go home" to heart, I went all in on my first try with a four pound beauty, skin on and all. Being a newbie in the belly realm, there were ups and downs with my process, staring with scoring the skin for the marinade to better penetrate the meat, which left me wishing I had freshly sharpened knife—it was tough work even with my fairly sharp six-inch parer.

Char Siu Pork Belly

The effort was not for naught though, as I compiled a very tasty marinade that ended up being a real hit in the end. It started with char siu sauce—the sauce applied to make Chinese "barbecue"—that was mixed with pineapple juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. I left this in the fridge overnight to let the meat soak in as much flavor as possible.

Char Siu Pork Belly

The next day, I wasn't entirely sure the best method to smoke pork belly, so I went low-and-slow, thinking that no harm can be done slow cooking a fatty piece of meat. So it went in at 225 and cooked until the meat hit 160 degrees—unlike barbecue, you want to cook pork belly to, not above, temperature to keep a lot of the amazing fat that makes it so great.

Char Siu Pork Belly

After about four hours, it emerged and red-hued beauty—the common color for anything done up in char siu-style. Combined with a moist meat, I should have been fairly happy, except .

Char Siu Pork Belly

While the skin was cooked, it was also tough and hard, not crisp and crackling texture I was looking for. So I knew the best way to fix this...the grill, right?

Char Siu Pork Belly

Wrong! Or maybe I'm right, but just haven't gotten the technique down yet. While all looked good to start, the melting fat quickly turned into a massive ball of fire. I moved the pork around to avoid the flare-ups as much as possible, but by the time the skin had finally crisped, it was also a blackened mess. I took out my knife and started scraping some char off to try to salvage my mistake, but the damage was already done.

Char Siu

Incredibly, even a burnt skin could not hold back the shear power of the pork belly. To minimize the burnt aspect, I cut the belly into small pieces, letting the deep flavor of the marinade and crazy awesomeness of the fatty meat overcome the charred top, keeping it a semi-solid champion. Not one to give up though, I'll be doing this again, but maybe finishing the pork in the broiler instead of grill—fat can't drip up onto a fire—unless anyone has a suggestion on getting perfect crackling on the grill or smoker.

Smoked Pork Belly Marinated In Char Siu Sauce

Despite a few missteps in an attempt to crisp the skin on the grill, this pork belly's flavorful char siu sauce marinade and awesome fatty meat still made it a champion
  • Prep Time:
  • 15 Minutes
  • Inactive Time:
  • 4 Hours
  • Cook Time:
  • 4 Hours 15 Minutes
  • Total Time:
  • 8 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Yield:
  • 8-10 servings


  • For the Char Siu
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • For the Marinade
  • 1/2 cup char siu sauce
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4lbs pork belly, skin on
  • 4-6 chunks apple wood


  1. To make the Char Siu: In a small bowl, mix together Hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, sherry, and five spice powder.
  2. To make the marinade: In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup char siu sauce, pineapple juice, garlic, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Score the skin of the pork diagonally every 2-inches, repeat in the opposite direction, making a diamond pattern. Place pork in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal and toss to evenly coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.
  4. Remove pork belly and allow to come to room temperature while preparing the smoker or grill. Fire up smoker or grill to 225 degrees for indirect heat, adding chunks of apple wood when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place the pork in the smoker or grill, skin side up, and smoke until pork registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the belly, about 4 to 5 hours.
  5. Place pork belly on a medium hot grill, skin side down, or in a broiler, skin side up, and cook until skin is crisp. Remove to a cutting board, let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice and serve with remaining char siu sauce.


  • 01
  • Joseph says
    Did you ever figure out a good way to crisp the fat?
    Posted Tue, Jun 19 2012 9:58am
  • 02
  • Josh says
    @Joseph Not with this method, yet. I did a rotisserie belly with incredible skin.
    Posted Tue, Jun 19 2012 9:59am
  • 03
  • Joseph says
    Ah yes... excellent.. /Mr. Burns voice
    Posted Tue, Jun 19 2012 10:05am
  • 04
  • Mike says
    I can't get skin on pork belly. Would this work with skinless?
    Posted Sat, May 25 2013 7:58am
  • 05
  • Josh says
    @Mike This recipe would work just fine skinless. I actually couldn't get the skin to turn out well in this recipe, so skinless may even be preferred.
    Posted Sat, May 25 2013 10:11am
  • 06
  • Jamie says
    The key is to boil the pork belly first for about 25 minutes. Then score it with a knife. (cut approx 1/8 inch deep scores into the skin). The skin will slice as easy as butter.

    I then pan-fried the skin side to make it nice and crispy.

    Then pop in the smoker. Give it a shot, or some variation - the key to making the skin manageable and delicious comes down to the boiling.
    Posted Wed, Jun 21 2017 9:06am

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