“Bak kwa” frenzy is brewing as the Chinese New Year season draws nearer, but it made me wonder how will be the response in this year’s celebration since the general food prices have risen. Depending on the area of one’s dwelling, it can be common to see Chinese stalls selling “bak kwa” by the road side during this season.
Image from http://www.bbqbeefjerky.com/
What is “bak kwa”?
One who is of the other races origin may probably been asking; bak kwa is the Hokkien translation for Rou gan (肉干). It is a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product similar to jerky. It originated from the Fujian province in China where it is considered a Hokkien delicacy, made with a meat preservation and preparation technique originating from ancient China.
Bak kwa is loved by many Chinese, it tastes good when it is eaten alone, and it goes well with bread too. The popular meat is pork and there are chicken and beef meat as well. But I have not come by mutton bak kwa, so if there is any made available, it will be definitely worth trying. In Singapore, they offer exotic varieties too.
Below is a glimpse of bak kwa’s sales pattern in Malaysia and worldwide.
In Malaysia, you can buy it all-year round from specialist shops but it is especially popular during Chinese New Year as a snack. Often, there will be a long queue as the days get closer to the CNY period. This is because bak kwa is translated to “long yoke” in Cantonese, which means having a robust fortune ahead. – Eat your Heart Out, “Recipe: Bak Kwa (Homemade Chinese Pork Jerky)“, 16 January 2014”
If you’re not from Malaysia, Singapore or Hong Kong, you’ve probably never ever heard of it. It’s ridiculously expensive (approximately £20 per kilo) yet there’s almost always a long queue outside the more popular stores. – Chocolate, cookies and candies, “The Easiest and Most Authentic Homemade Bak Kwa Recipe“, 12 December 2013.
Is it “Halal”?
In a non-Muslim perspective, the recipe is a record of how is made, but it is the ingredient used – pork and Chinese rice wine, that are “non-halal”.
However, if you look at the ingredients of the recipe – meat, sugar, Chinese five spices powder, fish sauce, light soya sauce, rice wine, honey, vegetable oil, dark soya sauce, and sesame oil; the non-halal ingredients can be substituted accordingly.
When the general food prices are on the rise, do you wish to try making your own homemade “bak kwa”? Below is the how-to video; she is a Chinese in the UK and had modified the technique to suit her lifestyle, while some ingredients used are substituted according to the supply of her local community.
In comparison to the oven method shown in the video, the commercial bak kwa’s cooking method is slightly different. If you have a chance to witness the preparation of the commercial ones, the meat is hung dry for a period of time and barbecued, similar to how satay is cooked, therefore do give these two methods a try, in order to determine which method gives a better outcome in terms of flavour and meat texture.
So what are you waiting for? Since the weekend is starting soon and while the Chinese New Year celebration is just days away, why not use this opportunity to try out the recipe. It will be nice to discover new flavours too. 😀