This post is about making Singapore/Malaysia style bakkwa (肉干), or savory pork slices, at home.
There are numerous recipes for this online, but none of them hit the mark for me. It took many attempts over several years, going through different recipes and techniques, before I put together a recipe that can be easily made at home, which I feel closely resembles the commercial product.
Commercial products are priced upwards of $50/kg in Singapore, and even up to $100/kg when they are exported to places like Australia. Yet, making it at home only cost $10+/kg in terms of ingredients, so it is something that is definitely worthwhile making at home. Also the process for making it is not really complicated.
First the main ingredient, pork. Most online recipe will use minced pork, but I like to use thinly sliced pork (1mm thickness). The texture of the final product is different. The former is softer, while the latter is more chewy. Both types are sold commercially: 切片 (sliced) and 碎肉 (minced). The sliced variety is typically $10/kg more expensive than the minced variety.
If you use minced pork, go as close as 20% fat/80% lean meat as possible. For sliced pork, go with a cut of meat that has a good proportion of fat. I use the "collar butt" cut from Costco, which typically cost $10.99/kg for a 3kg slab.
For slicing, I go with a cheap manual meat slicer like this:
I have written about the crappy plastic gears in cheap electric slicers, so never am I going to get another one!
I will typically cut the meat into 1kg slabs, then freeze them in the freezer. This prepares them for slicing when I am ready to make a batch.
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp rose wine
- 2 cubes fermented red tofu (玫瑰腐乳)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- 90g sugar
- The longer you cook the pieces, the more chewy they are going to be. But if you cook them for too long, they may become too tough. If the cooking time is too short, they will be soft and have that "porky" taste.
- You want the grill plate to be hot, but not so hot that it will immediately char the pork pieces. As for the final product, you want the pork pieces to be slightly charred, but not *too* charred. This can be achieved by turning the pieces over regularly to examine them.
- Prepare sliced pork (no preparation if using minced pork from supermarket)
- Add marinate
- Make pork slices
- Dehydrate pork slices
- Cook pork slices
- Use sliced pork for more chewy texture similar to 切片肉干 that can be purchased commercially
- Use fermented tofu in marinate
- Pork pieces should have uniform thickness for consistent texture in final product. My solution is to make a special tray for this.
- Dehydrate the pork pieces using very low temperature, not cook them. This ensures maximal preservation of marinate in pork pieces.
- Cook the pork pieces on electric grill for better control.