Keyword: bak kwa, chinese barbequed pork jerky, chinese new year bak kwa
Prep Time: 30minutes
Cook Time: 1hour
Total Time: 1hour30minutes
Servings: 124-inch size pieces
Author: Bee Leng | The Burning Kitchen
Make Chinese New Year even more meaningful by serving your guests with home-made Bak Kwa, the Chinese version of barbecued pork jerky. Our recipe is very tender, highly glossy and has a nice substantial bite. Try making it yourself!
Wash the pork and cut into chunks before mincing it with cleaver or a food processor.
COOKING METHOD (start the day before)
Place the minced meat into a big bowl, then add in salt, sugar and maltose and mix it well with a pair of chopsticks.
Add the rest of the marinade ingredients to the meat and stir, preferably in one direction until the meat is sticky.
Wrap the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven at 160°C, and line a rectangular tray (35cm x 18cm x 2cm) with baking paper.
Remove the meat from the refrigerator and give it another stir. Place half the meat on the baking tray.
Lightly grease your hand with some cooking oil and flatten the meat on the tray evenly with your hand.
Cover the meat with another sheet of baking paper, then use the rolling pin to spread the meat out in the tray evenly to around 2mm thickness. Then gently remove the top layer of baking paper.
Place the tray on the middle rack of the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the bak kwa and cut into squares using a pizza cutter or kitchen scissors. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 240°C using only the top fire.
For the glazing liquid, melt the maltose in the hot water and mix well. Then brush the maltose syrup over the bak kwa.
Arrange the bak kwa squares on a metal rack. Place on the top shelf of the oven and grill for 4-5 minutes at 240°C using only the top fire until the bak kwa is caramelized and lightly charred. Make sure you place a drip tray at the bottom.
Turn the bak kwa over and repeat on the glazing and grilling steps on the other side.
Store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. To serve, warm up the bak kwa in a small oven for a few minutes until it turns glossy.
Make sure you get a cut of meat with about 20% fat, such as Pork Neck or Wu Hua Rou (五花肉), so that the Bak Kwa will be succulent and juicy when cooked, but not overly fatty / oily.
Tell the butcher to mince it only once if you buy ready minced meat. Or else the meat will not hold and it will not have substance when eaten.
You can use honey instead of maltose. However, I prefer to use maltose because it has a milder flavour that blends better with Chinese food. It also makes for a nice thick glaze that's not too sweet because it is more viscous but less sweet than honey.
Brand of Dark Soy Sauce: Some brands of dark soy sauce are very black and salty, and it will make your Bak Kwa very dark coloured. In general, my preferred brand is Elephant brand Cooking Caramel. It has a nice flavour, not too salty and gives a nice caramelised colour to your dishes - whether you are making Bak Kwa, Char Siew or Chinese Sticky Ribs.
Don't over mince the meat. Mince the meat finely, but don't overdo it until it becomes powdery. This will give the Bak Kwa a nice substance when you bite into it
Be careful to watch over the Bak Kwa constantly in the final grilling step at high heat, especially after adding maltose as a glaze. The sugars in the marinade and the maltose caramelise very quickly under high heat, and it can go from slightly charred to burnt within minutes. Alternatively, you can either BBQ it or grill it over a small toaster with top fire.
Know your own oven. Do also bear in mind that all oven temperature settings differ, so the timings I provide are only a rough guide. If you are unsure, please open up the oven and check on the Bak Kwa slightly ahead of the timings I have provided.
Brush on an extra coat of maltose during the last 1-2 minutes to get that extra glossy finishing. This allows the sugars to caramelise and form a rich reddish colour and slightly charred bits around the edges.