Bak Kwa (Chinese Pork Jerky) + Electro Seconds Giveaway!

Chinese New Year is my favourite family celebration growing up Malaysia. My hometown Batu Pahat is literally painted red with festive decorations adorning the town centre as the town livens up with city dwellers returning to their family or ancestral homes on the days leading up to the festive period. It is the one time of the year where the Chinese make considerable effort to gather with family and take the opportunity of the public holidays to catch up with extended family and friends whom we hardly see during the year. Shops are filled with customers frantically stocking up on festive food and drinks - crates of mandarins, boxes of carbonated drinks and beer, and tins of assorted candy, preserves, cookies and snacks are just some of the Chinese New Year goodies commonly found at home. Having lived abroad for many years, I've missed out on many of the festivities; feeling somewhat nostalgic this year, I decided to make myself some bak kwa (Hokkien meaning 'dried meat'), a popular snack eaten during the Chinese New Year in Malaysia and Singapore.

Bak Kwa (Chinese Pork Jerky)

Originating from the Fujian province in China, this Chinese salty-sweet jerky is made with pork mince (also available in beef or chicken) mixed with salt, sugar, soy and spices then air-dried and grilled over charcoal to give it that smoky barbecue flavour. The snack is so popular during the festive period that some folks are willing to line up for hours just to purchase them and it doesn't come cheap - some stores selling premium brands may charge up to $30 for half a kilo of bak kwa. Trawling the internet, I've found several different recipes (from, Nasi Lemak LoverNot Quite Nigella, Mrs. Bear Cooks) which uses more or less the same ingredients and slight variations on ratios and cooking methods; I've picked snippets here and there plus some trial and error to make up my adapted recipe below: 

Bak Kwa (Chinese Pork Jerky)

Prep time: 5 mins + marinade overnight
Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins

Makes 1 standard size baking tray

500g pork mince (choose the fattier version i.e. not lean)
100g white sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
½ tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon dark soy sa
¼ teaspoon five spice powder

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons honey mixed with 1 tablespoon water 

Ingredients for making bak kwa - pork mince, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, salt, sugar, white pepper, five spice powder and honey

1. Mix all the ingredients with the pork mince in a mixing bowl with chopsticks or a fork and stir till combined. Cover the bowl and leave the mince to marinade in fridge overnight.

Mix the pork mince with the condiments until combined

2. Preheat oven to 180°C or (160°C fan forced). Let the marinated mince thaw slightly to room temperature and give it a good mix.
3. Line a baking tray and spread the mince evenly making sure there are no holes or gaps. (Tip: Cover over the mince with cling wrap and use a rolling pin to flatten it out on the baking tray.)

Spread the marinated pork mince onto a lined baking tray

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove tray from oven and dab or drain the juices off the meat. Cut up the meat into smaller pieces as desired. 
5. Remove baking paper and line tray with a new baking sheet. Turn the cut meat over to the other side and bake for 20-25 minutes.
6. Change the oven setting to grill; alternatively, heat up the grill on the barbecue. Brush the glaze mixture and grill for 4-5 minutes on each side repeating until meat is caramelised. Keep a watchful eye on the meat as the caramelisation could result in the meat burning easily.

Gleaming bak kwa fresh out of the grill

Bak kwa is usually consumed on its own though goes very well washed down with an ice cold beer. I've found that the bak kwa taste better the next day, and better still if warmed (you can zap it in the microwave on high for 10 seconds). Ah-Kong, my paternal granddad used to make us grandkids bak kwa sandwiches when we were little - two slices of white toast lightly buttered with a generous piece of bak kwa reheated on the grill wedge in between. Hmm, just talking about this makes my mouth water - I might just go make up a bak kwa sandwich right now... 

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai from Xavier and the Woolley family!

Electro Seconds Giveaway!

The colour red in Chinese culture is a symbol of good fortune and joy so what better way to celebrate the Year of the Fire Monkey with a new shiny red toaster for the home! Thanks to the folks at Electro Seconds, one lucky reader will have a chance to win this Morphy Richards Accents Red Polished 4 Slice Toaster (RRP $119):
Source: Appliances Online

Electro Seconds is a clearance outlet store that offers a wide range of top brand kitchen appliances, computers and sound systems at the lowest prices. Delivery is free to the metro areas in Australia (small fee to other areas within the country) - you can order online through their website or pop into their Sydney showroom in Auburn or Erina that is open 7 days a week.

To enter, simply follow The Moreish Life on FacebookGoogle+Instagram or Twitter to gain an entry (if you follow all four, that's 4 chances to win!). Competition is open to Australian residents only and ends Sunday 6th March 11.59pm AEDT. Good luck!

Congratulations M. Jordon of Rockdale, NSW for winning the Electro Seconds giveaway!


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