Friday, 31 January 2014

Recipe: Homemade Bak Kwa

Homemade Bak Kwa fresh from the oven

Bak kwa or bak gua or barbecue meat or 肉干 (ròu gān) is one of everyone’s favourite snack especially during Chinese New Year. Although it is easily available in countries like Malaysia and Singapore, it is almost impossible to find them abroad. Living in London meant that I have been Bak Kwa deprived for months. With the ban on bringing meat products from abroad, the only way possible is have some bak kwa is to illegally bring them in to the UK. Since I didn’t smuggle any in when  I came back to London, the only way to satisfy the craving is to make them myself. After 2 attempts, I finally got the recipe right!

Because sharing is caring, so here’s the recipe:


500g      minced pork
1 cup     brown sugar
2 tbsp    fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tbsp    sweet soya sauce (kecap manis)
1 tbsp    light soya sauce
1 tbsp    oyster sauce
1 tbsp    Shaoxing wine
3 tbsp    honey
1 tsp      sesame oil
1/2 tsp   five-spice powder
1/3 tsp   salt
A pinch of pepper


A mixture of all the seasoning

1. Mix all the ingredients except the minced pork in a big mixing bowl.

Mix well until a paste like above is formed.
 2. Add the minced pork and mix well until it becomes evenly mixed into a paste. Refrigerate overnight.
TIP: Using minced pork with higher fat content will make the bak kwa softer and tastier. The extra lean or lean minced pork from major supermarkets will yield drier and harder bak kwa. I bought my minced pork from Chinatown.

3. Preheat the oven to 130°C using the fan oven mode.

4. Cut a piece of baking paper which is large enough to cover a large baking tray. Scoop about one quarter of the total amount of marinated minced pork and place it in the middle of the baking paper. Adjust the amount according to the size of baking tray. (I use a 12x7 baking tray)

Place a large chunk into the middle of the baking paper
5. Cover it with a large piece of cling wrap and use a rolling pin to spread it out evenly to form a thin layer of about 2mm. The cling wrap will prevent the minced pork to stick to the rolling pin. For those without a rolling pin, use a spoon or fork or finger to spread it out evenly, just like spreading jam onto bread.
TIP: Make sure the minced pork is spread into an even layer. Uneven thickness will cause the thinner parts to be burnt quickly. It doesn’t matter what shape is formed but spreading the minced pork into a large square or rectangle will make cutting it into smaller pieces easier.

Spreading it out evenly - I totally failed my geometry here cause I can never form a proper square or rectangle
6. Bake in the pre heated oven at 130°C for 15 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven and increase the heat of the oven to 240°C. Cut the large piece of almost-ready bak kwa into smaller pieces of square of about 7-8cm.

Almost-ready bak kwa after being baked for 15 minutes. Divide them into smaller pieces.
8. Place the cut pieces into the oven to bake at 240°C for 2 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and flip the bak kwa; then bake for another 2 minutes. Baking it on both sides will cook the bak kwa evenly on both sides.
TIP: Adjust the oven heat accordingly. Every oven works differently and you would know your oven better!

9. Switch the oven to grill mode and bake the bak kwa for 1 minute on each side. Remove and enjoy after it is cooled.
TIP: Using the grill is completely optional. Grilling the bak kwa will produce a similar effect as barbecuing the bak kwa over charcoal fire.

10. Repeat steps 4 to 9 until all the minced pork is used up.

The bak kwa can only be stored for about 3 to 4 days in room temperature and 1 week in the fridge because there is no preservative. Alternatively, store the bak kwa after step 7 for up to 1 month in the freezer and bake them at 240°C when you would like to eat them.

I hope you would enjoy the homemade bak kwa!

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