Saturday, June 5, 2010

How to make Chinese Meat Jerky alias Bak Kwa

Just the thought of Bak Kwa makes many overseas Singaporeans salivate and think of the smoky sweet and savory popular snack originated from Fujian (Hokkien) province in southern China, commonly made from pork, but also with beef and halal chicken in Malaysia. The texture and flavour of bak kwa is quite different from the strips of meat jerky you find in Australia, the United States and elsewhere.While the meat jerky found in Austalia is super desiccated and chewy, bak kwa is pliable, slightly moist and sweet savoury in taste. The best bak kwa, I was told by a friend, who is related to one of the popular bak kwa chains in Singapore, is traditionally made by slicing the thin slices of meat along the grain, which are then marinated in soya sauce, maltose, rice wine and other seasonings. The meat is air-dried to remove much of its moisture, then charcoal grilled. No wonder it is so expensive because the moisture lost through the processing means you end up with about a third of the amount there was at the start of the process. Last week was my first attempt to make bak kwa at home with pork mince - a less expensive version. I was pleased with the result and and due to popular demand, I am making some more this weekend. My son has found that it is delicious in sandwiches made with soft bread spread with a little butter, for his school lunch.

Bak Kwa Recipe

1 kg minced pork
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp 5-spice powder
1/2 tsp licorice powder
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp cooking wine
1 cup sugar

Mix minced pork with seasoning in a big bowl. Cover the mixture with a cling wrap and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight. Spread the meat on non-stick baking paper thinly with the back of a spoon. Cover the mixture with another piece of another piece of non -stick baking paper and use a roller to roll the mixture to 2 mm thick. Bake in preheated oven at 160 degree Celsius for 20-30 minutes or until mixture is about 70 % dry and slightly moist and firm to touch. Remove the meat mixture and cut into 100 mm x 100 mm squares. Grill each square under over a barbecue 1 1/2 minute on each side, until slightly brown or bake under a grill until brown.


  1. My mum attempted at making this too! We call them 豬肉乾 in hongkong :) save me a piece when you next make some! :)

  2. Hi bebi.j
    I have kept a piece for you before my son finishes them :)

  3. phil, it's the fatty part of the pork that makes the bak kwa juicy?

  4. Hi yg,
    Yes, it's the pork fat that makes it juicy and yummy ;) We used the lean mince from our butcher for the first batch, as a result it was not as tasty as the second batch we made last weekend.

  5. I've tried making this once a few yrs back but never again. Found it too much of a hassle and not worth the effort since I can always buy them from stores. I enjoy reading your blog as it's a constant reminder to me that I should not be taking things for granted. Thanks!

  6. Hi Uncle Phil,

    This is 2nd time I make Bak Gua.

    Failed again ! It became Biscuit again !

    Do you know the reason ?

    Thank you


  7. Hi Yen,
    I can't think of any reason except for thinking you have been drying the bak kwa too high a temperature and left too long in the oven.