Low FODMAP Char Siu Chicken Thighs

Makes ~4 servings

We call it Chinese BBQ pork but it’s real name is ‘char siu’, which translates as “fork roasted”, describing the cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire. It is easily recognized by the bright red color of the exterior of the meat. The color traditionally comes from red yeast rice or red fermented bean curd paste (called ‘lam yu’ in Cantonese). Red is considered to be a lucky color in Chinese culture. Char siu is typically associated with festive events as it brings good luck to serve red food.

A green plate with char siu chicken, rice and eggroll sauté
Char Siu Chicken with rice and Egg Roll Veggie Sauté

For this recipe long-marinated chicken thighs stand in for the pork. You can marinate for 8 hours and get good results, but for the most flavorful chicken, marinate overnight. Instead of the laborious process of barbecuing, the chicken is broiled so cooking takes just 15 minutes. This reproduces the delicious sweet flavors of the dish without the labor of making it sticky. Serve it as a main dish alongside Egg Roll Veggie Sauté and rice. Chill it and slice it for a delicious appetizer.

I based this recipe on the char siu pork from Seattle’s famous Kau Kau BBQ Restaurant, considered by many to be some of the tastiest char siu in the world. This dish is quite sweet but it matches the sweetness of the original BBQ pork. If you prefer, you can certainly use less sugar. You’ll still get the amazing flavor. Personally I love the beautiful red color of the dish and I think it adds a lot to the presentation. It can be achieved using the same red yeast rice powder people take as a supplement or by using food coloring. However for a weeknight meal, I usually skip the color.


  • 1-1.5 lbs (~4 count) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 2-3 tbsp cane sugar
  • 1-2 drops sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2-3 drops natural red food coloring OR 2-3 tsp red yeast rice powder (optional)


  1. In a mixing bowl with a lid, combine the soy sauce, hoisin, sherry, sugar, five spice powder, white pepper, ginger, garlic-infused olive oil and food coloring. Whisk to combine well.
  2. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade. Toss to combine, being sure to thoroughly coat the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours but ideally for 24 hours.
  3. Prepare oven for broiling by positioning the rack so the meat will be 6-8” from the heating element. Broil ~10 minutes with the cut side up so that a nice char develops. Flip and broil another 5 minutes. Chop into strips and serve with fresh white rice and a vegetable.