Bak Kwa

by Xinyu on 26th Jan, 2012

Posted by
chinese grill pork chinese new year bakkwa cny

We're taking a break from the Christmas dinner posts to give a few Chinese New Year recipes, since the new year just arrived a few days ago. 大家新年快乐!
Every Chinese New Year, one of the treats I most look forward to eating is bak kwa, a traditional sweet pork jerky. Its customary to buy a pack and gift it to your relatives, and the bak kwa stalls always have snaking queues of people lining up to buy some. This year we decided to try making some; the plan is that if its successful, we'll make bak kwa ourselves for our parents next year instead of braving the long queues.

This recipe is adapted from one we found at Soy and Pepper. The end result looks like the real thing and has the same texture, but the taste still needs some tweaking. Its a little too salty, and I think we could have added more sugar.

While the original recipe uses only sugar, we substituted some of the sugar with maltose, which I think is more traditional (we also have a jar of maltose we're trying to use up). Since maltose is less sweet than sugar, I guess we should have compensated by using more maltose or more sugar than the exact amount called for in the recipe.

Bak Kwa

Minced pork , caster sugar , maltose , fish sauce , rice wine , five-spice powder , sesame oil , light soy sauce , salt , red food colouring
Minced pork
['minced pork']
caster sugar
['caster sugar']
fish sauce
['fish sauce']
rice wine
['rice wine']
five-spice powder
['five-spice powder']
sesame oil
['sesame oil']
light soy sauce
['light soy sauce']
red food colouring
['red food colouring']
Mix all ingredients with the pork. Use the red food colouring to adjust colour as required. Leave to marinade for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 100C. Place a large piece of muslin cloth over a cooling rack, and place rack on top of a tray to catch any excess liquid. Spread the minced pork thinly onto the muslin using a spoon. It needs to be thin, but not too thin as that can make it difficult to remove afterwards.

Place rack into oven and leave it to dry. It will take about an hour; if your oven has a convection mode (fan), use it. When it is done, the meat should have shrunk slightly from the edges and feel mostly dry to the touch.

Remove from oven, and flip muslin over onto a work surface. Slowly peel the muslin away from the pork. Using your bare hands works best for this step. The pork at the edges are likely to have dried up to the point where it is quite difficult to peel off the muslin; if that's the case then just leave those dried bits stuck to the muslin by tearing the pork. The parts farther "inland" should come off without too much trouble. You'll be left with thin "slices" of pork that keep their shape nicely; if its too wet it will break apart too easily.

Cut the pork slices into large squares. Grill the slices either using a barbecue, or the broiler of the oven. The pieces cook quite quickly, in a minute or so. The edges should be charred for the traditional look (and flavour).
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