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Bak Kwa @ Yoke Gon @ Chinese Pork Jerky 猪肉干

Friday, January 12, 2018

I have been making these since I was a teen. For each Chinese New Year, my mom will order 4kg of minced pork from the butcher, get it sent to our home and I will be doing the marinating and sun drying. When mom comes back from work, she would start the charcoal grill and it's grilling time.

I haven't been making these for many many years, until a blogger's gathering 7 years ago. I tried to recall the ratio and the outcome was a bit too salty, maybe I got it wrong. Then, two years back, I tried to make it again. The taste was just right, but the colour was too dark due to the addition of just 1/2 Tbsp of dark caramel sauce. This time, I made it again and it was just nice. Sweet, sticky, not too salty and the colour was what I wanted.

My pork is store minced. A mixture of lean and fat. I buy them fresh and freeze before use.
I prefer to use frozen pork.

It was because, there was one time in my teens, after seasoning the fresh pork, the fresh pork developed resistance due to all the mixing action,  and I had trouble spreading it thinly. I resorted to using a rolling pin, rolling it with pressure to get it flat. And the outcome was horrendous. The pork jerky became so tough! It was like tree bark. Never again shall I use a rolling pin.

Nowadays, I buy fresh minced pork,  freeze it, and thaw it before use. Or you can just buy frozen pork straight away. Frozen pork spreads easily, doesn't develop resistance after seasoning, and any thawed meat juices can be poured away before seasoning, and that speeds up the drying. Please use the meat's weight before the thawed juices are poured away

Bak Kwa @ Yoke Gon @ Chinese Pork Jerky 猪肉干

Recipe by WendyinKK
Makes around 1.2kg of end product

2kg minced pork (with some fat), frozen and thawed
350gm sugar
2 Tbsp red yeast powder (optional, only for colour***)
1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
80ml Chinese rose wine 玫瑰露*
20ml fish sauce
20ml premium oyster sauce
100ml light soy sauce
80gm maltose, melted in 2 Tbsp boiling water

1. One or two days before, place frozen minced pork into the fridge to slowly thaw. Discard thawed meat juice.
2. Mix sugar, red yeast powder and 5spice powder together.
3. Mix wet marinade ingredients together.
4. Place minced pork into a large mixing bowl, pour the dry marinade and wet marinade into the minced pork. Mix well.

*If you can't get rose wine, I suggest you use sake or any white Chinese wine with 1 tsp of rose water (it's clear, not coloured, available at Middle Eastern shops). The mild rose flavour is crucial for any sweet pork dishes
I'm not sure if one can infuse a few buds of dried rose with boiling water and use it to melt the maltose, maybe it might work.
It is also alright to use half Shaoxing wine and half rose wine. You can also reduce the wine amount if you like. But I find mine to smell really good.
**1 Chinese soup spoon = 20ml
***In the olden days, nitrate salt is used to cure the meat, and it makes the meat look reddish. To achieve the same visual effect without the use of nitrate salt, I add in red yeast powder, of which is a natural food colouring.

Sun dry method:

5. Line 4 to 5 large baking pans with plastic (reuse rice plastic bags and trim to size) or Silpat, non stick baking paper will work too, but not greaseproof, Plastic is the best. Spread the pork mix onto the lined pans, gently press and spread the pork at 4mm thickness.
6. Cover with netting and sun dry until the pork can be peeled off easily. It will take 2-3 hours under direct strong sunlight.
7. Peel the dried pork and cut into preferred size.
8. Preheat oven at 170C (fan). Prepare one large tray, place it almost at the base of oven to catch drippings as the pork jerky grills.
9. Place pork onto wire rack, base side up, sunned side down. Arrange the corner pieces to face in at the middle.
10. Bake until the pork pieces bubble all over, especially the center, and the sides start to char a bit. Mine took 7 minutes.
11. Remove from oven, cool down totally before packing.

On the day I remade the recipe, halfway through sunning, it started to rain, and I dried it in the oven.Just line all the trays in the oven and set it the temperature at 80C (Fan on) and let it air dry, switching positions every 45 minutes or so. If not, just bake them through. :-)

Left: covered with baby mosquito net, Right: Dried sufficiently and easily peeled 

Oven Method

12. Cover pork and put into the fridge for a few hours. (for the marinade to be properly absorbed)
13. Line pan with non stick baking paper or Silpat.
14. Place some pork onto the pan and gently press and spread the pork mix onto the lined pans, gently press and spread the pork at 4mm thickness.
15. Bake in a 160(fan)/180C preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until it can be lifted easily.
16. Repeat the baking process until all the pork is used up.
17. Let the baked pork cool down, discarding any juices the seeped out.
18. Cut the pork into preferred size.
19. Preheat oven at 200C (fan).
20. Place pork onto wire rack, base side up, top side down. Arrange the corner pieces to face in, at the middle. Prepare one large tray, place it almost at the base of oven to catch drippings as the pork jerky grills.
21. Bake until the pork pieces bubble all over, especially the center, and the sides start to char a bit. Mine took 10 minutes.
22. Remove from oven, cool down totally before packing

1. Sundried ones grill better, with more even tone, and less prone to blackened sides. Shorter grilling time and lower temperature. No meat marination time.
2. Fully Oven baked tends to char on the ends, but slightly moister outcome. I tried baking at the same temperature with sun dried ones, it doesn't end up fragrant, so I did it at 200C and it came out just as fragrant.

Both ways work, but sundried ones look nicer when done. I also tried keeping both at room temperature to test how well they last, both got mouldy at about the same time.

He loves it!
My family super loves Pork Jerky, especially my son and FIL. My FIL uses my son as an excuse to buy a lot of it, although he can't consume much due to health reasons. Now, he has no reason to buy because I make it at home. Hahahaha!

8 lovely notes:

Pei San January 12, 2018 at 2:37 PM  

your model is so cute....hahahaha u pay him by giving him the pork jerky

Anonymous,  January 12, 2018 at 5:09 PM  

Looks so good ������

Chloe January 13, 2018 at 8:07 AM  

Hi Wendy. Looks so yummy. Can I use beetroot powder instead of red yeast powder since I can't get hold of red yeast powder. Thanks. Chloe

WendyinKK January 13, 2018 at 10:45 AM  

Beetroot powder will turn brown upon exposure to oxygen, moisture, and heat. Even if you use the oven method, it will not stay red for more than a day. It will turn brown later. Just omit it.

WendyinKK January 13, 2018 at 10:46 AM  

Pei San,
Mana ada, all natural posing one, hahaha

Anonymous,  January 18, 2018 at 3:32 PM  

Hi Wendy,

How long can the BK last in room temperature?
pls adv


WendyinKK January 18, 2018 at 4:58 PM  

It was fine for a week on the counter, and then before I went away for a short trip, I kept it in the fridge, BUT left one sun dried and one baked piece in a container as experiment. Came back from my trip, it was mouldy. I guess, max 1 week.

Anonymous,  January 19, 2018 at 4:51 PM  

Thanks Wendy..

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