Bak Kwa / Barbecued Meat / 肉干

Been trying a few recipes to make this CNY favourite. Most are pretty nice and rich in flavours, but I get this feedback  from tasters that it’s “not like those outside”. After some tweaks, I had a revelation – keep it simple. No need for fermented beancurd, five spice powder, oyster sauce, not even colouring, natural or otherwise. The tastes that should come through are salty umami from fish sauce and sweetness from sugar and honey. Makes sense from commercial viewpoint too.

So this was my simplest recipe, yet most well-received. The texture is exactly like externally sold ones too, with chewiness just like a meat jerky should.

Many tips in the recipe but the most important is to stand by oven at the last part, just like cooking on the stove, don’t leave your bak kwas alone! Next, it is a must to use a more fatty pork to get tender chewy bite. Lean pork makes the bak kwa very tough!

Recipe

  • 500g minced pork with some fats (do not use lean pork)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine (I use cooking sake which was perfect)
  • 90g sugar
  • 1 tsp dark sauce

Glazing
  • Few tbsp of honey or golden syrup

Method

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except honey.

2. Using chopsticks, stir in one direction till well mixed and gluten strands are formed. This will take 5 mins or so.

3. Allow to marinate in fridge overnight. If possible, do not cover or clingwrap,  to allow some drying.

4. The next day, divide into 2 portions and place one portion on a piece of baking paper and then cover with another. With a rolling pin, roll out thin (2 mm), but not too thin as this affects texture too. Repeat for the other portion.
5. Place in baking trays and place into oven pre-heated at 150 deg to bake for 15 min with top and bottom heat. If you have fan in the oven, turn it on.
6. Take out from oven and cut into desired size. There will be some gravy. So, replace with clean new baking paper to discard gravy.

7. Doing 1 tray at a time now, glaze with honey generously on one side and grill at 230 deg C for 5-8 min. Invert pieces to other side and repeat for 5 min. Monitor like you are cooking at stove, and you can take out those that are cooked first leaving other thicker pieces to cook longer or even turn them again. So timing here is a guide only. You will see the pieces sizzling with edges browning when done.
Repeat for other tray.
8. Please consume only when cooled. The taste and texture will also improve.

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