Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bak Kwa (Asian Pork Jerky)

Updated Sept 26, 2013

Bak Kwa (Asian Pork Jerky) is a very popular snack during Chinese New Year. In Malaysia, the bak kwa shops will be fully packed with customers lining up and paying quite a bit of money for this delicious seasoned smoked meat, quite similar to the American Beef Jerky.... but so much better and flavorful!

In the US, it's almost impossible to get this snack here and many of us have resorted to making our own bak kwas to satisfy the cravings. I've made this snack many years ago and have not made it for many years. So, I decided to make it this year again and give my friends and neighbors a treat during our Chinese New Year potluck lunch. I must say, the bak kwa was a big hit with our guests. 2 lbs of bak kwas seemed so little and I could have definitely made more.

Knowing that my guests would appreciate this snack, I made it at night the day before (after coming home late from a wonderful dinner at Providence and was quite tired) as I knew there'll be no way I have the time to make it in the morning of our CNY lunch. I was totally right, as I was scrambling the whole morning till my guests arrived. Anyway, I baked the bak kwas the night before and the husband put it on the grill the morning off the party. I'm glad I stayed up and slaved over making bak kwas as it definitely put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces on Sunday! Here's the recipe.


Meat Ingredients
  • 2 Lb Ground Pork (Not too lean - Around 20% fat)
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Wine
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • A few Dashes of black pepper
  • 1 Tsp 5 Spice Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
Glaze Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Preheat oven at 325F. Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat (using a stand mixer; paddle attachment) ingredients until mushy and "gluey". Line baking pans with foil paper (if using foil paper; lightly spray with some baking spray) or oven safe silicon pads; this is for easy cleanup. Scoop about 1/2 Cup of pork mixture and place in the middle of the baking pan (half sheet size). Place a piece of plastic wrap (the size of the baking pan) on top of the meat mixture. With a rolling pin, roll the meat mixture flat until desired thickness then remove the plastic wrap and let the mixture bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. The meat will look like a rubber mat once it's cooked. Remove and cut to desired size and repeat the process again until all the meat mixture is used up. Set aside the baked meat.

Mix the glaze ingredients together and lightly glaze the meat before putting them over a charcoal grill for a few seconds and turn them occasionally to give them the smokey bak kwa flavor. Alternatively, you can use a gas grill, or even pan fry it if you do not have a charcoal grill. Please note that the bak kwa will lack a bit of the smokey flavor by doing so.

June's Notes: When rolling the meat mixture, DO NOT roll it out too thin (i.e. until it's almost translucent) as you may have problems removing it from the foil. Use a cake spatula to help remove the cooked bak kwa from the pan. 

As the bak kwa has quite a bit of sugar in it, it will burn easily on the grill. So, it's important to make sure the fire is very low and keep a close eye on the bak kwa to prevent them from being burnt! Let the edges caramelized a little if you want! Gas grill should be ok, but I don't think it will give you the smokey flavor. 


I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013

Simply June 

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