Chinese New Year is just around the corner… Actually, it’s just a day away now and what better way to make the atmosphere feel or ‘smell’ festive by making some Chinese New Year goodies! Let’s fill up the living room with money and coins and dive in like Scrooge McDuck, you say? Well, though there’s nothing as stereotypical as a fellow Chinese who loves money, heck, we even have our own God of Fortune (think Santa Claus but with gold nuggets), I’m referring to Bak Kwa, or Chinese pork jerky. So stop watching those sad, guilt-tripping Chinese New Year ads that your friends have posted on Facebook or on TV and let’s get cracking!
To those who are not from Malaysia and don’t know what those ads are, let me explain. When Chinese New Year is around the corner, big companies in my country usually release adverts emphasizing on the importance of filial piety and family. The general plot typically involves an ungrateful or somewhat disrespectful son/daughter; a stoic parent and another parent trying to ease the tension. Throw in some arguments; a tragedy followed by a revelation between the strained parent and child and lastly end it with the family having a happy festive meal on the table. I feel like sometimes these companies have a secret competition going on, trying to see who can one-up each other in the tear jerking factor. Perhaps that’s why some of the plot of the adverts can come off quite ridiculous. I’m looking at you, Bernas… Like most old-fashioned Chinese dads, the dad is in dire need of improving his communication skills with his son; the son needs to be less dumb and oblivious and the mum just needs to use a rolling pin and smack some senses into those two. Also, please hire a physio for your son, I doubt giving him a piggy back with his legs dragging on the ground will really help him recover. If you still don’t know what I’m referring to, just Youtube the ad from the company called Bernas.
Anyway, it’s just an ad. Less bantering more cooking!
500 grams pork mince (with some fats preferably)
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (Shao xing)
2 tablespoon dark caramel sauce (or just dark soy sauce)
4 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
A pinch of salt and white pepper to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients with the mince meat and either using a pair of chopsticks or your hand, knead till the pork mince has a sticky consistency.
2. Cling wrap the bowl of mixed ingredients and place it in the fridge to let the meat marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight.
3. Set the oven to the bake setting and pre-heat at 160c.
4. Place a baking sheet that is big enough to cover a shallow baking tray on a mat or cut board.
5. Place the mince meat in the middle of the baking sheet and place a cling film on top.
6. Roll out the meat as thin as possible.
7. Remove the cling film and transfer the baking sheet with the meat mixture onto the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes till it’s slightly dry.
8. Remove the bak kwa from the oven.
9. Set the oven to grill setting and increase the heat to 240c.
10. Meanwhile, cut and trim the bak kwa into squares or any shape you like with a knife or pizza cutter.
11. Place it back into the oven, and let it grill for 5 minutes on both sides until the bak kwa is slightly charred on the side and the colour deepens to a dark reddish brown.
12 Let the bak kwa cool and enjoy it straight away! Store any leftovers in an airtight container.
There’s nothing like sweet and succulent pork jerky or bak kwa to snack on and by doing that on Chinese New Year, it’s even more festive. Of course this recipe is not going to be as good Bee Cheng Hiang but is good enough since the ones sold here in Perth are pretty pricey. Hope everyone has a great Chinese New Year filled with good food, joy and prosperity!