Monday, January 24, 2011

Bak Kua/Chinese Pork Jerky

This is another must have snack for Chinese New Year. Who doesn’t like Bak Kua? Maybe if you are a health nut than you might stay away from it. For me Chinese New Year is the time to indulge into all the sinful food, cookies and other luxury snacks that we don’t eat often. Bak Kua variously translated as dried meat, grilled Chinese Pork Jerky or BBQ meat slices.

Back in Malaysia you can get this jerky all year round but strangely, most people will eat this only during CNY. Many people are willing to queue for hours during this time of the year just to get their hands on the BBQ meat from their favorite store. My family is very picky over our bak kua. We only eat the bak kua from a certain store and it has to be lean and doesn’t have the rancid porky smell.

Living here I don’t have the luxury of eating Malaysia Bak Kua. I am able to buy them in New York but they do not taste good at all. They claimed to be made by Malaysian but it just doesn’t have the taste of the one from home. I tried making this once but it didn’t turn out too well either. It was too oily (because of the fatty ground pork) and the taste was out. I didn’t like it at all. So I stay away from making this for a few years.

I tried making it again this year by tweaking the recipe and lo and behold, it turns out really good. The meat was well marinate, a great balance of sweet and savory with a hint of fruity orange. I used mostly lean meat and I made everything in the oven. No more grilling it outside in the super cold winter. You should see me when I first made this. I was standing at the grill in my heavy winter clothing. My neighbors must be thinking this woman was MAD ha ha… If you want a healthier bak kua with no chemicals and preservatives why not try to make it at home. Since this bak Kua has no preservatives, try to consume it within a few days. I don’t recommend you make too much of it at one time unless you want to give it away to family and friends. These keeps well in the fridge and just reheat it in the toaster oven before consuming.


2 pounds ground pork –with a bit of fat on it
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
Juice of half orange (about 4 tbsp)
Zest of one orange

1. Line 2 baking pan with heavy aluminum foil and set it aside.
2. Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a big spoon mix it really well. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for an hour.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degree F. Spread the marinate meat thinly onto the baking sheets. Use a spatula or the back of the spoon to do this and dipping it in water occasionally. This way it will prevent the meat from sticking to the spoon or spatula.
4. Place the baking pan in the oven and let it bake slowly for 15-20 minutes. At this stage you can see juices appear, the meat will shrink and the edges dry out.
5. Remove from oven and cool it down a bit and cut it into square with pizza cutter or scissors. Turn the oven to broil.
6. Line the cut meat back on the tray. Broil the meat on both side until brown and sizzle . This will only take 5-6 minutes (you have to watch this as it turn dark pretty fast)
7. Let it cool and keep it in an air-tight container.

Note: I put a bit too much of black soy sauce that is why the bak kua look a bit dark. I already adjust the quantity of the black soy sauce in the recipe. If you like to grill this, you can do so. Just cut and grill it after step 5.


Zoe said...

Homemade bak kua is such a great idea...especially for migrants who are living away from home. I'm happy to make use of this opportunity to re-create a healthier version of bak kua for my family to enjoy :D

Angie Tee said...

Gert, I made Bak Kua a couple of weeks ago but they were not good at all. The recipe had licorice powder and 5 spice powder.Yours looks way better! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

ahteekitchen said...

Hi! Ur home made bak-kua really looks tempting~ Is it any taste diff if using shao-xin wine? 

j3ss kitch3n said...

Gert i love these! you make it so tempting! great work done!

lena said...

very well done and how did you manage to cut those shapes out so evenly? yes, we cant explain why most people will buy this especially CNY when they are available all year round? I couldnt get it last year, i was late and orders had closed..imagine that! expensive too!

WendyinKK said...

Like you said, CNY is a time to indulge. At other times, this is expensive to eat and during CNY, well, dun care abt the price, but just buy and EAT!!!
I've never seen any one using orange in making this and it's really creative. What's the rationale behind the added orange?
A sudden impulse or there's supposed to have a function? Curious

Jenn@ChasingFoodDreams said...

gosh, that really looks yummy! Cannot wait to try this as it cost RM 46 for 500gm in Msia now.

What we will do to get our fix of our malaysian goodies..

I did the same thing when I was in US with my sis. We made our own satay & popiah..:)

I also grilled in the winter and our neighbours were looking at me bbqing the the snow.. one of them asked if they could come over to our house for dinner! kekeke...

Jun said...

Do you know that it is impossible for me to get good Bak Kua in Indonesia? I would have to ask people to get it for me from Malaysia or Singapore. And I just got message from my cousin that no bak kua for me this year, coz the line up was crazy in Singapore. Up to 5 hours of queueing.

I so love you for sharing this with us! Will definitely try to make an effort to make it this week!

My Asian Kitchen said...

wow!! you make bak kua!! so hebat!! I just saw a blogger who make bak kua and bookmark her blog and I see your.This weekend I'm going to stop at Chinatown,must get some minced pork to make bak kua...looking at your recipe is not really hard..but wait where an I going to bbq my bak kua? my grill already in the shed..oh!! you make everything in the oven..Ok..that is better!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gert, I have been searching for a good bak kwa receipe and I guess, I will look no further. Your bak kwa looks so good. I wonder how critical is the OJ and zest. will it drastically alter the taste if I omit these 2 items? or can I substitute these something else since my son is alergic to orange.

Noob Cook said...

looks very good and I like the pretty shapes you cut out. I'm so tempted to try after seeing yours and little inbox's bak kwa. I can imagine you wearing winter gear and grilling bak kwa in the cold winter, very cute :D

MaryMoh said...

Wow...homemade bak kwa. I need to try this as I can't get it here in Aberdeen. I double I can find it anywhere in Scotland. Thanks very much for sharing.

Jeannie said...

Home made bak lovely! Dont hv to worry abt freshness! Looks really good?

ICook4Fun said...

Zoe, yes it is difficult to get a good one from here so the best option is to make it yourself. After all we just eat this once a year :)

Angie, the previous recipe I tried too uses licorice and 5 spice powder and I hate the taste. Try this one out and let me know if you like it.

Ah Tee, you can use any type of cooking wine.

Jess, thank you.

Lena, I used pizza cutter for the square ones and cookie cutter for the rest.

Wendy, I hate the porky smell of some pork that is why I added some zest and juice to it. By the way there are some store at KL that sells fruity flavor Bak Kua but I am not sure what fruit flavor that add in there.

Jenn, yea bak kua is very expensive now. I think you should make it yourself, It is not too difficult. Yea we are crazy isn't. We do anything to get our fix of Malaysian food ha ha..

ICook4Fun said...

Jun, I am surprise you can't get bak kua in Indonesia. I thought this is a comman thing to eat during CNY. I guess not. Now you can make this yourself. Do let me know the outcome and if you like it or not.

Lesley, I bought some in Manhattan a couple of years ago and they taste bad. That is why I made this. You can do everything in the oven. No need to grill it on the BBQ set.

Josephine, I added OJ and zest to eliminate the porky smell. It is just my personal preference. You can just omit it.

Noobcook, ha ha It was freezing cold standing at the deck grilling.

Mary, you are welcome.

Jeannie, thank you.

Anonymous said...

thks alot for this recipe cos its too expensive for us to buy it. Needs your help on this:
1. what brand fish sauce you use? i only have "Golden Boy"

2. Can i just substitute fish sauce with soy sauce?

3. can i use minced chicken instead of minced pork?
thk you very much. Jing

PenangCKT_lover said...

Thank you for sharing this. Your bak kua looks great! I tried a different method I saw online recently, but yours looks better.

Thank you also for tagging this accurately as an 'Asian snack'. I saw some blogs claiming that bak kua is 'Malaysian Pork Jerky'. Just because something is eaten in Malaysia doesn't mean it is Malaysian. Culinary nationalism is so tasteless.

shaz said...

Oh wow! Bak kua is one thing I haven't eaten for many, many years because I thought it had to be grilled over charcoal. Roasting in the oven sounds great. Must try soon.

Lisa H. said...

Nice... I like the love shape Bak Kua
I am making again for CNY this year... chicken and beef version :D

Anonymous said...

Very interesting with the orange! I made some a few weeks ago but I am going to make another batch with orange flavour. Thanks for sharing Gert.

Cheah said...

Lovely aromatic Bak Kua. Nicely shaped too. I used to make them but not anymore. BBQing them in our weather is torturing.

Little Corner of Mine said...

I like how you cut it!

ICook4Fun said...

Jing, you can use any brand of fish sauce. If you substitute it with soy sauce it might not taste the same. You can always replace ground pork with chicken, turkey or even beef.

PenangCKT, thanks for you kind words. Many people from Asia eat Bak Kua so I don't think it is a Malaysian thing. More of Asian :)

Shaz, I hope you try this out. Since it is summer in Australia you can always grill it. It will taste so much better.

Lisa, you like this too :)

Ellie, I add orange to it to eliminate the porky smell :)

Cheah, thank you. BBQ it in the evening when it is not so hot :)

LCOM, thanks

mycookinghut said...

I totally agree with you that during CNY, it is the time to indulge this sort of sinful food.. hehehe.. then think about it later.. LOL
I love bakhwa and I will try this!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gert. I tried this today and am happy with the result. can't believe that I have made my own bak kwa!!! wonder if you have problem peeling the meat from the aluminum foil. mine kind of got stuck to the foil which makes the peeling off a challenge.

Anonymous said...

1. What is the dimension of your baking pans used here? cos i'm trying to gauge how thick the bak kua should be?
2. my oven cannot broil, so after baking at 104C for 35-40 min, what should i do? Is it done at this stage? really appreciate your advice. Kelly

My Little Space said...

Gosh, my comment went missing. LOl! Btw, have you tried making the spicy flavour bak kua? It's very popular over here these days and it's more pricey too. What about making bak kua with turkey meat? Looking forward to your turkey bak kua! Probably next year! hehe....
Cheers, Kristy

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please tell me if I could substitute the Chinese cooking wine with apple cider vinegar? Pretty please? I'm a Muslim and wine is considered non-halal. I need a non-alcoholic substitute for Chinese cooking wine. Any idea?

ICook4Fun said...

Anon, you can just omit the wine.

Elin Chia said...

Gert, yours definitely looks good. I aso hate the recipe that uses five spice powder. I must try try yours with orange juice added. Thanks for sharing the recipe ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi, your recipe mentioned "Line 2 baking pan with heavy aluminum foil..." and i would like to know if you bake 2 pans at one time or 1 tray at a time. My concern is that i wanted to bake 2 tray at one time so that i can save the electricity cost and also yield a large quantity of bak kwa in one go.

please advise. thanks.

ICook4Fun said...

Yes my oven is able to accommodate 2 baking pan at one go so I out them in together.