Char Siu Chicken

Beet powder lends a ruby hue to chef Chris Shepherd’s rendition of this Cantonese classic.

byChris Shepherd| UPDATED Aug 12, 2022 1:32 PM
Char Siu Chicken
Photography by Belle Morizio; Food Styling by Victoria Granof; Prop Styling by Dayna Seman

Char siu (meaning “fork roasted”) is a typical cooking style in Cantonese cuisine, in particular for the method behind the beloved steamed pork buns on so many dim sum menus. In Houston chef Chris Shepherd’s succulent long-marinated chicken-based rendition, beet powder lends a naturally bright red color as well as a little sweetness.

Yield: serves 4-6

Time: 25 minutes


  • ¼ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ cups honey
  • ¼ cups ketchup
  • ¼ cups soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. <a href="">homemade</a> or <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1431972009&amp;sr=1-11&amp;keywords=beet+powder">store-bought</a> beet powder
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • ½ tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
  • One 4-lb. whole chicken, halved lengthwise, backbone discarded
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, beet powder, vinegar, hoisin sauce, and 5-spice powder. Add the chicken and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, rub with the oil, and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Place the chicken skin-side down and grill, turning once, until charred and cooked through, about 30–35 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and set aside to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before carving into serving-sized pieces. Serve warm.

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