Bak kwa is an Asian sweet BBQ pork jerky. It’s available all year round but becomes a priced commodity during CNY. Days before CNY, the price of bak kwa sky rockets, but that doesn’t stop people from standing in line for hours just to get their precious bak kwa. What’s the draw of bak kwa you ask? Maybe it’s the auspicious red color. Or perhaps people are making up for lost time since it was considered a luxury item in the past. Well, I think it’s simply because its sweet-and-salty goodness, together with the aroma of the charcoal grill, and the slightly bitter char on the corners combine into one perfect little bite. What’s even more perfect is if you can save yourself some time (no queues!) and money (no price hikes!) by making it yourself!
People are always surprised when they hear we make our own bak kwa, but it’s really not difficult at all. Here is the recipe my husband came up with while we were living in Vancouver. His homemade version is not as red as the commercial ones because we do not add red coloring. Also, if you like it less salty, less sweet, or spicier, feel free to adjust the quantities below to taste. One trick to figure out the right level of seasoning is to microwave a small portion until it’s cooked. Taste and then adjust your seasonings accordingly until you’re happy!
(Yields: Two 15″x13″ baking sheets)
1 kg minced pork
5 tbsp light soy sauce
5 tbsp fish sauce
5 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
15 tbsp sugar
Dash of white pepper
Pinch of chili powder (optional)
1. Mix all ingredients together and marinate overnight in the fridge.
2. Divide mixture over two parchment-lined baking sheets. Place another piece of parchment over the meat and press or roll out into a thin even layer.
3. Bake at 350F/180C for ~ 20 min. Flip over and bake another 10 minutes until sides begin to char slightly.
4. Finish it over charcoal grill or on the grill function in an oven. Cool and enjoy!