Confession No. 138 — When the dentist has stinky breath, just walk away (Recipe: Sous Vide Char Siu)

Her halitosis should’ve been a dead giveaway. So too should I have been curious as she continued to brag about her skills while aimlessly poking away.

My dentist was a bona fide dilettante.

‘Yep, just as I thought,’ she said, still exhaling her noxious breath in my oxygen space. ‘You have six cavities.’

‘Six? Seriously?’ I responded with trepidation. ‘I’m 35 and I’ve never had a cavity. I brush and floss … My dad’s in his sixties and grew up poor and he still has all his teeth!’

But, as she explained, the X-rays don’t lie. Despite my skepticism, I let her drill and fill.

‘Adam, I’m not trying to be tacky but your breath smells rotten,’ my mom said.

‘Well, OK,’ I chuckled. ‘I brushed after I ate.’

‘No, I mean something smells rotten … like you have an abscess in your mouth.’

Though my putrid exhale came months after my visit to the equally bad-breathed dentist, the connection hit me like a ton of dead bodies. X-rays might not lie, but stinky-breath dentists just might.

And so I marched right back to that dentist’s office ready to defend my hygienic honor. It wasn’t the tooth fairy who gave me the nice chompers. I’ve spent quite a bit of money on toothpaste and waxed floss through the years. There have been more professional tooth polishing tips placed in my mouth than I can recall. Not to mention, I have genetics on my side.

But the senior dentist simply apologized for his former colleague’s errors and made mouth repairs where he could. That was well more than five years ago and it was only this week that — yet another dentist — fixed the problem again. Hopefully for good this time.

After some grinding, drilling and funky cold cast clay being poured halfway down my throat, I am the proud owner of a shiny new porcelain second bicuspid. I can now chew without injury, and I worry not that I’m exhaling a cloud of rot.

Next time a dentist gets in my face with bad breath, though, I think I’ll just walk away.


Char siu is a the Cantonese version of barbecued pork. Perhaps you love the version served at your neighborhood Chinese dive, but this version is better. Far better. For starters, it comes from a self-described ‘char siu snob.’ Secondly, there’s no red food coloring to muck things up. And finally, whether you eat it alongside crisp tender green vegetables, or add it to your favorite fried rice recipe, it’s deep in flavor and melt-in-your mouth. ~ I’ve adjusted this recipe slightly from its original version to include ingredients that are more readily found in standard supermarkets.

If you’re a Yelper, let’s be friends. Meanwhile, want to receive notifications of my Confessions, Chronicles and recipes in your email? Just click here. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. Why not witness some of my Instagram antics too?

Sous Vide Char Siu

Sous Vide Char Siu —

Sous Vide Char Siu — Deep in flavor. Melt-in-your mouth.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sous Vide Char Siu
Sous Vide Char Siu — Deep in flavor. Melt-in-your mouth.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese (Cantonese)
  • 1 lb – Pork tenderloin*
  • 6 – Green onions, sliced into 2 inch lengths (from the bulb end) and smashed
  • 8 – Garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 TB – Soy sauce
  • 2 TB – Chinese rice wine (or dry Sherry)
  • 3 TB – Sugar
  • 2½ TB – Hoisin sauce
  • 2 TB – Rich chicken stock
  • 1 tsp – Toasted sesame oil
Finishing Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients.
  2. Place pork in a gallon-sized zip-close bag; add marinade; place in refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
  3. Place pork in freezer-grade zip-close bag, or alternatively a pressure seal bag; add 2 TB of the marinade.
  4. Seal the bags with a pressure sealer (if using), or by using the water displacement method, if you're using zip-close bags.**
  5. Cook at 140ºF (60C)*** for 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  6. Remove pork from bag; preheat outside grill to high, or oven to the broil setting.
  7. Combine Finishing Sauce ingredients; brush it (all) on pork.
  8. Grill (about 5 minutes) or broil (2-3 minutes) until charred.
  9. Remove from grill/oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
*-If you're using pork loin (the larger cut) cut it lengthwise into strips around 2½ -3 inches wide and 2 inches or so thick. Cut strips crosswise, if needed, into pieces 6-8 inches long.

**- Unless you own a pro-grade sealer, this dish is better suited for zip-close bags. To remove the air from the bag, close all but a small portion of it, then slowly lower it into the water bath until the air is displaced. Seal. (If the bag floats, you still have air in it. Try again.)

***- The USDA and FDA recommend cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145ºF, followed by a rest of 3 minutes. However, pasteurization begins to occur at 130ºF, and with the length of cooking time in this recipe, my research (and eating experience) indicates that it is safe to eat. That said, if you are elderly, pregnant or just squeamish about pink in your pork, raise the sous vide temperature to 145ºF.



  1. Kathryn @ anotherfoodieblogger says:

    Hmmm, I have a small pork tenderloin just begging for this in the sous vide. And I have all necessary other ingredients and equipment. How did you serve yours? In a stir fry, with veggies and/or rice? Inquiring minds…

    • adamjholland says:

      I served mine with a side of crisp-tender (stir fried) sugar snap peas. I really wanted rice, but carbs.. 😉

  2. Have I ever had BBQ Pork in a Chinese Restaurant? I think not. Something new to try. And with a zip lock. Thanks for that tip about lowering it into a water bath.

    • adamjholland says:

      My pleasure, Lea Ann. You’ve probably had barbecue pork in a Chinese restaurant (it’s the stuff with the red food coloring that’s been seared at the end). This is so much better, though.

  3. I love a nice pork loin – don’t have a sous vide………this must be something I need to get now!

  4. Damn, that dentist was a real asshole. Glad you got that whole tooth thing straightened out.

    On another note, your char siu looks divine!


Speak Your Mind


Rate this recipe: