This recipe for Chinese Pork Jerky (Bak Kwa) is a tasty, savoury treat that is enjoyed at Chinese New Year. Ground pork is grilled into a caramelized, sweet and salty meat snack.
What is bak kwa?
Bak kwa is a Chinese Hokkien term for dried meat (rou gan), similar to jerky.
Unlike American-style jerky, which is salted, dehydrated and smoked over low heat, Chinese-style pork jerky is a sweet and salty meat that is usually grilled over charcoal.
In Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, bak kwa is a traditional must-have snack at Chinese New Year.
What does it taste like?
Chinese pork jerky tastes predominantly sweet and salty, with a succulent, tender moist texture and smoky grilled flavor.
It's not as dry as American-style jerky, which can be tough and chewy.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe is straightforward and easy to make, with no super fancy equipment needed.
It uses a little over a pound of ground pork, which fills one half sheet (18" by 13") baking tray.
Beating the meat into a cohesive gel-like consistency, similar to Vietnamese Beef Balls helps to give its texture and shape.
Using an oven to broil the meat keeps everything simple and eliminates having to use a charcoal grill or BBQ.
There are only 6 ingredients in this recipe.
Ingredients you'll need
- lean ground pork: about 80/20 ratio of meat to fat
- granulated sugar: or a combination of sugar and honey
- fish sauce: for flavoring the meat; use a high-quality fish sauce for the best flavor
- 5-spice powder: for flavoring the meat
- Chinese rose wine: also known as Mei Kuei Lu Chiew; adds flavor and aroma to the meat
- chili powder: optional; omit if you don't like it spicy
Feel free to add white pepper or other spices for variations in spice and flavor.
How to make it
In a KitchenAid mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, add in granulated sugar, fish sauce, 5-spice powder, rose wine, and chili powder (if using).
Add in the ground pork (Step 1 below).
Turn on the mixer to low speed and stir the pork mixture (Step 2 below).
Beat the meat for 5 minutes until it develops a stringy cohesive gel-like texture.
Transfer the meat into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a half sheet (13" by 18") baking tray.
Have a bowl of water ready.
Spread the meat thinly onto the parchment paper. If the meat is too sticky, dip a spatula into the bowl of water to help spread it out. (Step 3 below)
Place plastic wrap over the meat and use a rolling pin to roll the meat thinly.
Remove the plastic wrap from the meat before placing in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 200ºF.
Bake the meat for 20~25 minutes, or until the meat can be easily peeled off the parchment paper (Step 4 below).
Let the meat cool slightly.
Use a pair of scissors to cut the meat into 6 large pieces and fold down any protruding edges of parchment paper (Step 6 below).
With the oven rack set to the 2nd from the top, broil the jerky in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flipping the meat intermittently with a pair of tongs, until golden brown in colour (Step 6 below).
Continue to grill the meat for another 8-10 minutes, until the juices have evaporated and the meat is slightly charred, glossy and browned.
Cut the pork jerky into smaller pieces and serve.
How to serve & store
Serve the pork jerky at room temperature.
Store the Chinese Pork Jerky well wrapped in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Alternatively, you can freeze the pork jerky for up to 3 months.
Thaw the pork jerky in the fridge overnight the day before you want to enjoy.
Expert tips & notes
The meat will shrink after cooking. This is normal.
Edges will be slightly charred -- keep rotating the pieces of meat and change the location during grilling.
You can use a BBQ grill if you have one, instead of broiling in the oven.
If you can wait a day or two to enjoy the pork jerky, the meat will be more flavorful.
Other Chinese New Year recipes you may like
Be sure to check out these recipes:
Prawn Crackers/Shrimp Chips (Keropok)
Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes (Feng Li Su) 鳳梨酥
Peanut Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)
Let me know if you try out this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Chinese Pork Jerky (Bak Kwa)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 75 g granulated sugar
- 30 ml fish sauce
- ¼ teaspoon 5-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon Chinese rose wine (Mei Kuei Lu Chiew)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder optional
- 500 g lean ground pork
For visual key process photos, refer to the body of the post.
- In a KitchenAid mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, add in granulated sugar, fish sauce, 5-spice powder, rose wine, and chili powder (if using).
- Add in the ground pork.
- Turn on the mixer to low speed and stir the pork mixture.
- Beat the meat for 5 minutes until it develops a stingy cohesive gel-like texture.
- Transfer the meat into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a half sheet (13" by 18") baking tray.
- Make an outline/border by folding the parchment paper according to the size of the pan..
- Have a bowl of water ready.
- Spread the meat thinly onto the parchment paper, as evenly as possible. If the meat is too sticky, dip the spatula into the bowl of water and spread it out.
- Place plastic wrap over the meat and use a rolling pin to roll the meat thinly.
- Check to see the even thickness of the meat by lifting up the parchment paper against the light.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the meat before placing in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºF/93°C.
- Bake the meat for 20-25 minutes, or until the meat can be easily peeled off the parchment paper.
- Let the meat cool slightly.
- Use a pair of scissors to cut the meat into 6 large pieces and fold down any protruding edges of parchment paper.
- With the oven rack set to the 2nd from the top, broil the jerky in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flipping the meat intermittently with a pair of tongs, until golden brown in colour.
- Continue to grill the meat for another 8-10 minutes, until the juices have evaporated and the meat is slightly charred, glossy and browned.
- Cut the pork jerky into smaller pieces and serve.
- Or store in the fridge or freezer.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
Raymund | angsarap.net
OMG you gave me an idea, I never thought I can make this at home until now. On my last trip to Macau I bought some of this but customs here was strict and that meat I bought was not allowed entry at that time since there was a FMD in China at the time I came back. I was craving since then, now I can make it at home, thanks for the recipe
Aww sorry to hear that you weren't able to bring back the meat from Macau -- but at least you can make it at home now! 🙂
David @ Spiced
I have to admit that I'm really intrigued by the grilled version of this - you know me and grilling! However, the broiler option sounds much easier. I've made American style jerky a number of times, but this Chinese version is new to me. Sounds delicious!
Yes, broiling the jerky in the oven is more easy and accessible since not everyone has a BBQ grill. Thanks David!
Yum!!! They are so delicious!!! I really like the Asian pork jerky. Now I can make at home. Thanks Michelle!