Tuesday, January 25, 2011

C2S Bakes: Chinese New Year Goodies - Bak Kwa


Chinese New Year is around the corner and during the month before, there will be plenty of stalls and places that start selling CNY cookies.

It is a tradition in Malaysia and Singapore to make if you can, or buy a variety of cookies and cakes for Chinese New Year. These are displayed in decorative boxes ready to be served to friends and relatives who visit. They are also given as gifts.

You can imagine the delight as a kid, being able to eat and try so many different types. I remember as a kid, seeing my grandmother, mom and aunts making cookies. I recalled memories of helping to make love letters using a charcoal fire in the backyard. You don’t realise what you miss until you can’t get them overseas.

One of these goodies that I do missed is the Bak Kwa as commonly called in Malaysia. It is otherwise called Rou Gan 肉干 according to Wiki. This is a salty-sweet dried meat that are shaped in thin flat squares. Think of juicy caramelised meat in terms of the taste!

Traditional recipes require for the meat to be cooked over hot charcoal which is quite impossible for me as I have no barbecue and no garden to even attempt.

Having had the luck to sample some of Mili’s when she decided to beat the odds and use the oven instead. It was a success!

I decided to try and make my own, fingers crossed! I browsed my recipe books and discovered that I had the recipes in there to my delight!

Bak Kwa is traditionally made using pork but I decided to play around and use beef and turkey as well. Talk about being ambitious, not only did I not start with making only the traditional version, I decided that I might as well try the fruity version as well.



I have a kitchen that is clouded in smoky meat smell that stopped my flatmate from entering! LOL!

OK, to the actual Bak Kwa itself. It is yummy! I think the taste is spot on but will have to do some minor tweaks with the texture (result of working without a blender and not using a rolling pin!).

Recipe - Crispy Sweet version
•900g minced pork
•1/4 tsp soda bicarbonate
•280g sugar (you can play with this. I used some brown sugar as well)
•1 ¾ tbsp fish sauce
•1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
•2 ½ tbsp rice wine
•20g oyster sauce

Recipe – Fruity Crispy Sweet version
•900g minced pork
•1/8 piece pineapple (boiled and blended)
•200g sugar (you can play with this. I used some brown sugar as well)
•1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp light soy sauce
•1 tbsp rice wine


Mix the ingredients together (excluding the minced pork) before mixing it into the mince pork. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.

This is where I turned to the method used by Mili (Extracted from Mili’s recipe)

Step 1
Cut two pieces of parchment paper that is the same size as the cookie sheet

Lay one sheet on the upturned cookie sheet (turn it upside down)

Scoop about 1.5 cup of the meat mixture on the bottom parchment that is resting on the cookie sheet (approx – depending on tray size)

With the other parchment sheet, slowly press the mixture down from the top, try to spread the meat mixture as evenly as possible over the cookie sheet.

Try to get it to cover the whole cookie sheet, using more meat mixture as needed and another cookie sheet if it is not large enough

Your meat mixture should be around 3-4mm thick, and even all around. Use a rolling pin over the top parchment paper if needed

Step 2
Traditionally, this meat mixture is then air-dried for a day or two. The modern way would be:

Leave it in a 100c oven for 50 -60 minutes to dry it out. Do NOT turn the oven up higher than 110 degrees as this will cook the meat.

We want to dry it out, not cook it.

After about 1 hour, the meat layer should be ‘welded’ together from the fats in the mince.

Leave to cool, and then carefully cut it into squares at this point.

You can freeze this for later, OR

Step 3
Turn on the grill (charcoal bbq is best) and grill it for about 4-5 mins on each side

The bah-kwa should sizzle and spit and be slightly charred on both sides

Leave it to cool before tucking in.

This is fantastic in a sandwich, on its own. Basically, I can much on this anytime! 


  1. Just the recipe that I need. Hmm, looks like it's quite involved though.

  2. London Chow - It isn't as complicated as it looks. Do let me know if you need help! =)

  3. Kay... Great to meet up and now I get to know your blog too! I can't wait to try the Bak Kwa! ;)

  4. Sounds like a challenge to make this delicious bak kwa:D

  5. mycookinghut - was great to meet you. Hopefully you like the Bak Kwa. Can't wait to catch up again!

    Jeannie - the instructions look complicated but is actually not too bad! =)

  6. I LOVE BAK KWA!! My mum and aunties make the best bak kwa... and there's this one place in Melbourne that also makes a killer bak kwa.. yum.. and gong xi fa chai! x

  7. Catty - Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too! Will need to ask you for that killer Bak kwa place when I am next in Melbourne. =)


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