Bak kwa – Chinese meat jerky

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A typical Chinese New Year dish, this bak kwa recipe is a type of tasty jerky made of pork mince. it takes a little elbow grease, but is well worth the effort.

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For some reason, if you asked any Singaporean expat what he or she wants back from Singapore, there’s a pretty good chance they would ask for bak kwa. In Singapore, for all your convenient snacking needs, they even sell it individually vacuum-sealed in tiny bite-sized packs, looking, as the astute observational skills of an English colleague of mine noted, uncannily like packets of meat condoms (I chastised him and his gutter mind, but he does have a point).

You can eat it on its own, grilled, heated up in the microwave, between slices of toast, with scoops of rice, whatever. Incredibly moreish and probably not the best thing to have within reaching distance if you are on a diet.




Bak kwa


Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, mix well. Once it has been mixed well and looks like a firm dough, punch and whip it viciously and pick it up with both hands and slam it back into the mixing bowl repeatedly (if it helps, imagine your boss, ex-girlfriend, mother-in-law, that bully at school – whatever it takes) until it turns into a gooey, gluey paste. It may take anywhere between 5 or 15 minutes depending on the level of brute force exerted on the meat clump
Spread the meat paste thinly (about 3mm) onto a greased baking sheet or large flat baking tin. I use the back of a spoon to flatten it. Leave it uncovered in the fridge to dry out and also marinate overnight
The next day, you need to dry out the meat. If you are lucky enough to be in a hot country with constant sun, you can leave it out in the sun to dry out. If however, you are stuck in some forsaken part of the world which never sees the sun, invert the meat paste sheet onto a wire tray and put into a preheated oven at 100°C for 20 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar
When it is relatively dry, remove from the oven and cut into the required shape – strips, squares, circles or oblongs are the most common. At this point, you can store the bak kwa in the freezer for up to three months
If you are lucky enough to have access to a barbecue, grill the strips over hot coals to give them a strong smoky flavour and good char marks. Alternatively, preheat a grill to its highest setting and cook them for 10 minutes, until they are slightly charred. Enjoy warm or cold

Goz founded the successful plusixfive blog to generally dispel myths of Singapore cuisine.

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