‘Bak’ = Meat (肉）+ ‘Kwa’ = Dried (干）
So, ‘Bak Kwa’ = Dried (and sweet and barbequed) meat slices!
It’s shocking how much the commercial market is selling for a kilogram of Bak Kwa, especially during the Chinese Lunar New Year. It could be as cheap as what we did here, or even cheaper, if the meat is purchased from a wholesaler. But then again, if one considers how much effort goes into making all these pieces of crispy treats, it’s really easy to forgive and forget.
The idea of making Bak Kwa didn’t come from me; it came from the guy. He never fails to come up with horridly unfeasible ideas and always makes them seem like chicken feet tasks. This is one of those ideas, and I must really give him a pat on the back for making it such a successful first attempt.
I love how the aroma of grilled slices leaks out of the kitchen and stays within the house. I hope our Halal neighbours right opposite will forgive us; it’s going to be just this once.
- Minced pork: 500g
- Fish sauce: 2 1/2 tbsp
- Dark soy sauce: 1 tbsp
- Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce): 1 tbsp
- Red cooking wine (or rice wine): 1 tbsp
- Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)
- Sesame oil: 1 tsp
- 5-spice powder: 1 tsp
- White pepper: 1 tsp
- Salt: 1/2 tsp
- Honey: 2 tsp
- Mix all the ingredients into the minced pork. Marinate for at least 5hrs or overnight.
- Preheat oven at 120 deg.
- Using the back of a spoon, spread a thin layer of marinated pork (about 3mm) evenly onto a tray covered with aluminium foil.
- Bake pork at the middle shelf for about 30min (15min on each side), with the oven door open.
- Let the juices flow out from the meat until it’s dry. The meat should look a bit grey (half-cooked) at this stage.
- Preheat the grill to 175 deg. Place the half-cooked meat at the lower shelf and grill for about 5min till it sizzles and starts to turn red. Leave the door open for the grilling as well.
- Flip the pork to the other side and continue to grill for about 5min till the whole piece turns red and starts to char at the side. Keep watch, or else the whole thing will char very quickly!
- To save time, use a rolling pin to flatten the meat by placing it between an aluminium foil (bottom) and cling foil ( top) while rolling.
- You can choose to store the meat in the freezer after step 5 and grill it at a later stage for consumption.
- For steps 6 & 7, let the juices drip away from the slices so that they remain dry. Use a rack to grill them if possible, so that the juices can drip down.
- As the meat grills, you will see it caramelising because of the sugar and honey. This is the trick to getting the pork slices to turn red without adding any red food colouring, which is what some shops do to get that red luminance.
Makes 10 big slices (15cm x 20cm), as per 2nd picture here