Homemade Bak Kwa (Barbecued Dried Meat)

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My oh my, look at these juicy Bak Kwa!

Over the weekend, I spend my time spring cleaning the house, bake peanut cookies and making Bak Kwa (Barbecued Dried  Meat). Chinese New Year (CNY) is just a week away! Before CNY, it is a tradition to spring clean our house to sweep away the old and any ‘ill luck’ to welcome the incoming good luck of the new year. Chinese New Year also known as Lunar New Year, celebrates the start of spring in China, which is also the 1st day of a new Lunar year.

Bak Kwa, also known as rougan 肉干,  is a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product similar to jerky, made in the form of flat thin sheets. It is often made with mince pork or chicken in Malaysia, beef and mutton are also common in China. In Malaysia and Singapore, Bak Kwa has become a highly in demand gift  during Chinese New Year (CNY). When you start to see long queue outside popular Bak Kwa shops for this RM90-RM100/kg (USD30/kg) Bak Kwa, you know Chinese New Year is around the corner. It’s even madness in Singapore where the queue can be more than 1 hour! While demand is particularly high during the festive seasons, Bak Kwa has also become a popular snack throughout the year.

Because of the high price of Bak Kwa, I always thought the process must be too complicated. My friend Prisca told me she used to make 20kg of bak kwa as CNY gifts with the process of drying the mince meat on the roof top under the hot sun (long and tedious traditional method). “You’ve got to be kidding me! On the roof top?” “Yes on the roof top for the whole day and you have fresh bak kwa.” Phew!

Lean Beef Bak Kwa (on the left) and Pork Bak Kwa

It was until I read about a MUCH simpler process on some food blogs that made me attempt to make my own for CNY. Best of all, I can control the amount of seasoning and sugar (the store-bought ones are usually too sweet). With a big oven and grill, you can have bak kwa in practically no time at all. Roll out the mince into sheets with a rolling-pin, then bake, cut and grill. And there you have it – juicy grilled Bak Kwa to savour your heart (or tummy!) out.

I attempted 2 different recipes – the first was using lean mince beef (trying to be healthy) with orange zest (recipe from MyKitchenSnippets). I used a spoon to flatten, baked until totally dry and skip the grilling. As you can see from the photo, the beef version on the left looks thicker and dryer. The orangy flavour blends quite well with the Bak Kwa.

Citrus ad Candy‘s OHMYGOODNESS Bak Kwa photos had me screaming in my heart “I have to try a 2nd batch!”. With fattier mince pork and combination of the seasoning from the 2 recipes, out came my thinking hat. Not having flat baking tray, I layer foil over wooden cake boards, roll into sheets with a rolling-pin, bake and grill them over my stove! Kitchen is my new playground and I will do whatever it takes to churn out the food I enjoy! Just see the difference for yourself.. thinner, juicier and more oily!

With Bak Kwa being such a craze in Malaysia, this recipe definitely has to be submitted to Muhibbah Malaysian Monday!. Check out this month’s Muhibbah Malaysian Monday! for more Malaysian Chinese New Year goodies.  

I’m also submitting this post to Your Best Recipe, a monthly roundup of your best recipes hosted by Spicie Foodie. This Bak Kwa recipe is definitely my best recipe for January, go check the roundup of all the other recipes here.

4.6 from 7 reviews
Homemade Bak Kwa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Bak Kwa (rougan 肉干) is a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat made in the form of flat thin sheets. Popular snack and a must have for Chinese New Year.
Author:
Serves: about 900g Bak Kwa
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Thorughly combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl or container. Add red food colouring, if you prefer dark red shade. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 100°C. Wash and dry flat baking trays. If you don’t have any, simply turn over your baking trays to use the flat bottom. I use wooden cake boards and wrap with aluminium foil.
  3. Place mince onto the tray then spread and press down to form a thin sheet over the surface of the tray to a thickness of 3-5mm. You can either use wet fingers/spoon to manually press it or you could lay a sheet of plastic or baking paper over it and roll it thin with a rolling pin. Try to keep the edges as straight as you can so you can cut into neat squares.
  4. Place the trays in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the meat has dried out - the surface is dry to the touch, most of the liquid has evaporated and is holding together without breaking (It's fine to be a little moist underneath the sheet). Continue pressing and drying out the remainder of pork with the rest of your trays.
  5. Cut the dried meat sheet into squares with a kitchen scissors.
  6. Heat up your charcoal bbq, grill or broiler and grill each square until darkened and caramelised. It’s totally ok to have the tiniest hint of charring but keep your eyes on them because they burn quickly and easily.
  7. These Bak Kwa does not have preservatives, so it's better to keep them in an airtight container in the fridge with sheets of greaseproof baking paper between each slice of Bak Kwa. When needed, reheat Bak Kwa in grill or microwave.
Notes
* Oven toaster can be used in place of the grill.
* You can also store and freeze the bak kwa after you have dried it out in the oven. Once cooled, place sheets of greaseproof baking paper between each slice of pork. Wrap very well with clingwrap and place in a container to freeze. When ready to use, defrost in refrigerator and grill as normal.

 

Check out my other favourite CNY goodies:

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55 Comments

  1. I am chinese living in Brazil for more than 54 years and never had bak kwa but looking your beautiful ones, I attempted to try and “voilá”, it was amazing! I will make those for the New Year celebration and surprise my family. Feicháng gânxiè.

    • Oh wow, it’s amazing this recipe gets made in Brazil and to be connected with a fellow chinese.. just mind blowing. Happy you get to try out this little chinese snack. I bet your family will love it during Chinese New Year :D

  2. I’m so excited to see your bak kwa recipe! I’ve been living overseas for 20 years (19 years in NZ, 1 yr in Aussie) and I really miss the taste of juicy bak kwa. Your recipe look simple and I will definitely try it.
    By the way, I was introduced to your blog a few months ago. Really love it! You put in so much efforts in all your posts. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    • Hi Shu, getting your message makes me even more determined to continue producing quality recipes and posts. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog and do share with people whom you think will benefit from it. Hope you get a taste of juicy bak kwa soon.

  3. Hi, Thanks for the recipe. This is my first time making but too bad I don’t really like how they tasted. I think I would reduce the 5 spice and maybe rice wine too. Guess I have to keep trying and adjust the recipe to my liking. Happy Chinese New Year!

    • Hi Mei. Congrats on your first attempt. Sorry the recipe didn’t turn out to your liking. Everyone’s tastebud is different, and the flavours varies from different locations. Hope you tweak & try the recipe again. Good Luck and Happy Chinese New Year!

  4. I like the meat sightly reddish but am reluctant to use colouring out of bottles. What I’m using is the KeiChi aka Boxton seeds, 3 tablespoons full and soaked in a tablespoon water. Squeeze the water out into meat 30 minutes later. We used the same for Char Siew colouring. Will see how the final produce is tomorrow! Thanks!

    • Thanks for sharing about using KeiChi as colouring, I never knew that. I think it shouldn’t make the minced meat too be watery as it’s only one tablespoon. I can’t wait how it will turn out

  5. Pingback: Bak Kwa ( BBQ Pork) | Life in Frankfurt

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  7. Hat’s off to you for doing this site. I know it takes effort.

    I am going to try your bak kwa rercipe out. Been looking to make this for some years now.

    Gong Xi Fa Cai

    • Thanks for your compliments. It’s a lot of work to maintain this blog alone, but it’s worth it because I really enjoy sharing and inspiring people to eat more healthily. Hope you enjoy this bak kwa recipe

  8. Hi!
    you mentioned that you grilled the bak kwa on the stove, i don’t have a bbq pit or grill or toaster so how to do it on the stove? thanks. the recipe looks so simple by the way!

    • I used a wire mesh over the stove, you can buy some wire mesh from hardware store or or the ready made ones for grilling fish at cooking ware shops/100yen japanese shop like Daiso

  9. Ooooo….you made your own? I’m impressed!!! And your own peanut cookies too? Hmmm…you have my mailing address? Wink! Wink! Muahahahaha!!!!
    suituapui recently posted..Goodbye to you…My Profile

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this kind of Chinese processing technology. Im a real addict to this kind of delicacy. i will try making one.

  11. This made me happy. I lived in China for a couple of years and found myself living on this stuff. I’ve had this nagging disappointment with my lot in life since I came back to the states. I mean, moving around a lot, you get used to losing friends and leaving familiar places…. but it’s off-putting when you lose the food you enjoy eating as well. I will definitely try this.

    • I understand the changes & challenges you need to go through when you move to a new environment. I stayed in Australia for 2 years, and I love the food there, especially Vietnamese. It’s so frustrating that I can’t find any restaurants here that serve good Vietnamese food.
      I hope you can find more recipes of the food you eat in China and replicate them. Please update me how these Bak Kwa turn out for you. Good Luck!

  12. Wow, your bak kwa looks so amazing. All shiny and sticky. Well done, you amaze me constantly :)
    shaz recently posted..Muhibbah Malaysian Monday Round Up 19My Profile

    • thank you thank you. i’m humbled by your words. I’m still quite amazed that how easy and cheap it is to make bak kwa, and the roadside stalls are making a fortune selling these. I’m considering selling this next year :)

  13. Congrats on making two beautiful Bak Kwa and may the Year of the Dragon bring you good health, happiness and prosperity!

  14. I’ve never had bak kwa (or at least I don’t think I have… ) but it sounds interesting kind of like jerky but with minced meat instead of sliced strips. I’m a carnivore at heart so I think I need to try both recipes :D
    Rochelle (@AcquiredLife) recently posted..Week Four of Two-thousand Twelve Minus a DayMy Profile

    • The sliced strips jerky is a bit tough to chew, this dried fatty minced meat taste more tender. Malaysians is used to Bak Kwa being a sweet, others find it harder to appreciate the sweetness :P thanks for dropping by!

  15. Hi Shannon, I hope you had a lovely CNY celebration. This is new to me but I have to tell you that it looks amazing. Glad to learn about a new dish. Thanks for participating in the YBR :)
    Nancy/SpicieFoodie recently posted..Your Best Recipes of January 2012My Profile

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  17. Is the bak kwa soft after cooked ? Those store bought are ! I ‘ve tried many recipes but not the taste and texture that I’m looking for my two little kings of the house !Hope that your recipe is the one I’m looking for ! Happy CNY and KONG CI FATT CAI.Thanks for your great heart to share your recipes.

    • Thank you for visiting my blog, Ancella. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too!
      I do not understand what you meant by soft bak kwa after cooked. The texture is the same like the ones I buy from Oloiya, Kiew Brothers or Bee Cheng Hiang. The Bak Kwa will more ‘tender’ if there’s more fat in the mince. If the mince is lean meat without fat, the bak kwa will be more ‘tough’. You can see the difference in the photo of the lean beef bak kwa on the left. Maybe you can just test with 200g of mince meat, before you try a big batch. Let me know how it turn out!

  18. I love all of these Chinese New Year recipes and this Bak Kwa has definitely become my favorite! It looks great and the recipe sounds delicious! I can see why it’s a CNY favorite!
    mjskit recently posted..Huevos RancherosMy Profile

    • thank you MJ. The Bak Kwa would have gone faster, had I not specifically instructed to leave some for my extended family to try. Those 1kg is very precious, only managed to give 1 piece for each to try :) And I even received orders, which I’m still thinking if I want to do it because I will need a bigger oven.. maybe i should seriously look into these side business :P

  19. I always thought the process of making Bak Kwa is complicated until now. I have just finished making 2kg of Bak Kwa for the very first time with your recipe without the red food colouring too. Grill on charcoal bbq and the result is simply amazing ….. delicious juicy grilled Bak Kwa, worth every minute of my time spent on it. Thank you so much, Shannon. Wishing you and your loved ones ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’

    • wow wow wow! that’s so amazing! I bet it’s even more tasty on charcoal bbq. i’m so happy for your results, nothing more satisfying that having readers try out my recipes and enjoy it! Your family is be lucky to enjoy them. Wishing you & your family a blessed Year of the Dragon.

  20. Wow, you are brave to try making bak kwa at home Shannon!! Kudos to you! I love these meat jerky but have never thought of making them at home. Like you, I have always thought they were super difficult to make. But you’ve really simplified the process for us. Thanks for the recipe!
    Sharon | Chinese Soup Pot recently posted..Lunar New Year Gift Card GIVEAWAY – $100 Total ValueMy Profile

  21. Those pictures have me seriously craving a piece of bak kwa! Absolutely delicious!

  22. Gong Hei Fatt Choy Shannon!! That bak kwa plus it’s home made is amazing and I am sure it will be delicious. No doubt about that.. Very pretty photos too and with step by step instructions. Lets try to plan something after CNY and maybe meet up the other bloggers here in KL. It will be nice to have fresh input and catch up. Take care now..Hugggss

    • Gong Hei Fatt Dai Choy, Joanna! and thank you for your compliments, still trying to improve my photography, going to get a SLR after CNY. Yes, it’s start meetup with other bloggers, definitely great to catch up. Let’s eat & be merry! Have a great CNY!

  23. thats awesome! i’m now studying in london so i miss having bak kwa, i can’t believe you can make your own quite simply, and best of all, your version is much healthier! we definitely can do without the artificial food colourings!

  24. looks good and easy. i probably can;t make it on time this cny but its definitely on my to do list the next long weekend:D
    missyblurkit recently posted..Carmel’s Kitchen: Ayam Pong Teh!My Profile

  25. Gong Xi Fatt Choi :)
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com recently posted..Cinnamon Pear LoafMy Profile

  26. Yeah, I remembered the craze about this Chinese New Year gift when I was a kid, when I saw stalls mushrooming all over the place in the last two weeks leading to the Lunar New Year!:p
    You are amazing to be able to make this at home, and you are going to save so much!:) You might wanna consider making them for business ;)
    Christy recently posted..Birthday Surprise!My Profile

    • The craze is still here, bak kwa stalls mushrooming everywhere and the queue at the popular shops are even longer now! I only buy Bak Kwa for my own family snacking, so didn’t save that much compared to if I made more as gifts. Making as gifts going to take the whole weekend because of my small oven!
      Even without tasting my bakkwa, friends are asking me start selling :P maybe might consider that for next year!

  27. Yum! I’ve never had this before but it sounds really delicious. Happy Chinese New Year!

  28. MMmmmm, they look really great and the process really seem quite easy. I may give it a go if I’ve time this weekend! Will keep you updated! :)
    Sylvia @ Peaches and Donuts recently posted..Chinese New Year Almond CookiesMy Profile

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