Char Siu–glazed Pork and Pineapple Buns

Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Char siu—Chinese-style barbecued pork—is popular throughout the Islands. We've used its sweet, tangy glaze on pork tenderloin and pineapple, and then tucked both into Hawaiian sweet rolls.

Yield: Serves 12
Total:
Recipe from Sunset

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Recipe Time

Total: 4 Hours

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 424
  • Calories from fat: 25%
  • Protein: 26g
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated fat: 5.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 53g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Sodium: 823mg
  • Cholesterol: 87mg

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Hawaiian vanilla extract*
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 lb. each)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 12 slices of peeled and cored fresh pineapple
  • 24 King's Hawaiian sweet rolls or other small soft rolls, warmed on the grill if you like
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs

Preparation

  1. 1. Make brine: In a large pot, bring 3 1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in salt, brown sugar, and vanilla. Chill until cool.
  2. 2. Put pork in a 9- by 13-in. pan and pour on brine. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 12.
  3. 3. Make char siu glaze: In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, hoisin, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Pour half the sauce into another small bowl.
  4. 4. Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (350° to 450°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds). Lay pork over indirect-heat area and cook, covered, until meat reaches 135° on a meat thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. 5. Using a pastry brush and one bowl of glaze, cover pork with glaze, saving 2 tbsp. for the pineapple. Cook pork (if using charcoal, add 6 to 8 briquets to maintain temperature), turning occasionally, until glaze has caramelized slightly and meat thermometer reaches 145°, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes.
  6. 6. Lay pineapple slices on direct-heat area of grill, brush with 2 tbsp. reserved glaze, and cook, turning once, until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Remove slices from grill and cut in half.
  7. 7. Cut pork into 1/2-in. slices. Cut a deep diagonal slit across the top of each roll. Fill each roll with a piece of pork, half a grilled pineapple slice, a cilantro sprig, and 1/2 tsp. glaze from second bowl. Serve rolls with remaining glaze for drizzling.
  8. *Find aromatic Hawaiian vanilla extract at gourmet grocery stores and hawaiianvanilla.com; non-Hawaiian vanilla extract works too.
  9. Make ahead: Brine pork and make char siu glaze up to 1 day ahead.
  10. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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