Bak kwa means dried meat in the Hokkien dialect. In Mandarin, it is known as ‘rou gan’. This meat jerky is made up of minced pork usually and a variety of ingredients that provides amazing aroma. Bak kwa strongly reminds me of Chinese New Year as during this time of the year, it is probably the most precious commodity and is rather expensive. The streets in Chinatown would be extremely smoky as various stalls go about with the preparation to cope with the demand. It has been increasingly popular to present these as gifts during the festive season despite the price increase over the years. Hence, why not give it a try making them instead? It would be more meaningful too.
Type of meat for bak kwa
The type of meat used is important when making bak kwa. Choosing meat which contains a good amount of fats would enhance the flavours during the cooking process. I prefer mincing the pork shoulder/butt. However, if minced meat is used, opt for those which has about 20% fat.
Additionally, the smoky taste of bak kwa is the key to its deliciousness. It is best prepared over a charcoal grill. If you do not have one, using an oven as shown in the video is also possible albeit the smoky aroma may not be present. However, this would not in any way lessen the deliciousness of the bak kwa.
Chicken or beef bak kwa
While bak kwa is known to be made with pork, beef or even chicken may certainly be used too. Simply replace pork with the meat of your choice. If you want to prepare chicken bak kwa, choose chicken thighs for more succulent meat.
Fermented red tofu
Fermented red tofu is meant to add colour and flavour to bak kwa. Some may find the taste too strong for their liking. Therefore, use only half of the recommended amount.
All about honey and its substitute
At the end of the cooking process, honey-water mixture is brushed on to the bak kwa for the final touch. Honey is recommended as it's easy to spread and for its natural sweetness. Just do choose the classic honey (e.g. Acacia or Clover) as other types of honey may have strong flavours.
Besides honey, you can use maltose.
How to store bak kwa?
Bak kwa is best consumed within 3 days for its freshness. It should not be kept for more than 7 days and must be stored in an airtight container before being refrigerated. Before consuming, either steam it for 10 minutes, microwave at very low heat for 2 minutes or pan fry over low heat for 5 minutes.
Can bak kwa be frozen?
Yes. Store them in an airtight container or in freezer bags with the air pressed out to avoid freezer burn. Before consuming, either steam it for 15 minutes, microwave at very low heat for 3 minutes or pan fry over high heat for about 4-5 minutes.