I first tried bak kwa when I was traveling in Singapore to visit a very good friend of mine. I was lucky enough to be there around the Chinese New Year, when this delicacy is served. This pork jerky is tangy, salty, and sweet, and it’s traditionally eaten on the New Year as a treat. It’s delicious, and easily adaptable to an AIP-diet. I brought some with me as airplane protein on the (very long) flight home.
When cooking your bak kwa, three things can be tricky. First, be sure to roll out your meat evenly and quite thin. Ideally you want a 3-4mm thick final slice. If your layer of meat is uneven, parts will still be wet when the rest is dry. It will also burn more easily in the broiling stage.
Second, adjust the initial cooking time to accommodate your particular meat in your kitchen. At the end of the first phase of cooking the pork should look and feel mostly dry. If your meat was too thick and liquid pools on top of it, simply blot it with a paper towel and continue cooking.
Third, be very careful not to burn the meat in the final phase! It’s very quick to burn under high heat, so watch it like a hawk.
This bak kwa keeps well for many days wrapped in the fridge, and because it’s jerky-like you can pack it in your bag for a mid-afternoon snack as well. This is one of my new hiking staples and post-workout snack as well.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1.5 tsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp apple cider or rice vinegar
- pinch cinnamon
- pinch ginger
- Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well with a metal utensil for several minutes, or until the pork gets gooey. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 250°. Line a large pan (or several, as-needed) with parchment paper. Pour the meat onto the prepared tray. Place another large piece of parchment or wax paper over the meat, and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a thin, even layer. Ideally your layer will be 3-4mm thick. Use a butter knife to smooth out any holes or thicker areas in the meat layer.
- Bake the meat layer at 250° for 15-30 minutes, or until dry. Remove the meat and turn the oven up to 450°.
- Once cool enough to handle, cut the cooked meat into squares. Place the squares back onto the tray, and put them on the top rack in your oven, under the heating element. Cook for 5 minutes, watching carefully in case the meat starts to burn. Flip the squares over and broil for another 5 minutes.
- Cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Store tightly wrapped in the fridge, or eat over the course of the day.