If you’ve hung around the Gazette for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I have a soft spot for charred anything. Burnt ends, crispy bits of cheese, and the list goes on and on, but chances are if it has been burnt a little bit, then I’m going to like it. This explains why, with just a small picture and brief description, I was ready to dive headlong into the Char Siu Pork from the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen without so much as a second thought.
The official menu description lists the Char Siu Pork as marinated grilled pork medallions served with Chinese broccoli. It also comes with your choice of either five-grain or white rice. This is a fair description, but doesn’t totally give you an idea of what you’re ordering. From the pictures and the descriptions, I knew I was headed into red meat on a stick territory, or how I describe one of my favorite items on the menu at our local Chinese buffet, but only better. To be complete accurate, Char Siu is a specific common manner in which meats, particularly pork, are prepared and barbecued in Cantonese cuisine. Usually it is thin strips of pork that have been skewered and then roasted over a fire.
The Skipper Canteen has taken this style of preparation to heart and has created a dish that I would order again and again if it weren’t for the fact that I have so many dishes left there to try! Each meal comes with three to four strips of pork that have been grilled to perfection. Not dried out, which is easy to do with pieces of pork this thin, and not overly juicy, but just right. It’s the Baby Bear bed of grilled pork. The glaze is a mixture of honey and other spices. I forgot to ask what specifically the spices were as I devoured the Char Siu Pork, but it definitely had the making of a five-spice powder. The glaze didn’t suppress the flavors of the meat, but instead worked in tandem with the pork and charring to produce a mouthwatering entree.
The Chinese broccoli is not your typical broccoli. It has longer stalks and less bushy florets, and it tastes a little bitterer than typical broccoli. That’s okay as it works well paired with the sweetness of the pork. As for the rice, the five-grain probably would have added some complexity to the dish, as well as being a more substantial starch, than the white rice I ordered. Either way, mixing the rice with the pork drippings and excess glaze will give you a couple of flavorful bites.
The Char Siu Pork is another hit for us at the Skipper Canteen. It hits all the right notes for this self-proclaimed fan of charring and all-things Asian barbecue, but is easily accessible to less adventurous eaters. I would be happy to dig into this again and again, and as I make my way through the menu, I’ll probably convince my dining partners to order this, just so I can snag a bite or two for myself!