Bak kwa, or roasted sweetened pork, is one of the food 'commodity' that never fails to command escalating prices as well as snaking long queues whenever Chinese New Year comes around. For me, I find it perplexing that of ALL the months in a calendar year, people can still choose to purchase this delicacy at the most expensive time of the year.
Did you know that bak kwa originated from the Fujian province in Ancient China? Back then, people were not that well-off and preserved whatever leftover meat that they had by marinating them with sugar and spices, and then slicing them thinly to save for another day.
Sounds like an educational opportunity right there!
So over the weekend, I decided to let the monkies try their hand at making their very own bak kwa! Considering that both of them love chewing the roasted sweet meat, I wasn't surprised at all when they jumped at the chance to flex their culinary muscles, if any.
Of course, it smacks of good financial sense too right? Heh.
And so with all our ingredients set, we were all ready to
Ingredients-wise, they were readily available and simple enough. What we needed were the following:
1. 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2. 1/2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
3. 1/2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
4. 1/2 tablespoon of rice wine
5. 75g of sugar
6. 250g of minced pork
Mix all of the sauces & sugar together in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Then add in the minced pork and continue to mix with gusto!
And in order to obtain the auspicious red bak kwa colour, we added one drop of red food colouring.
The monkies then continued to marinate it well by kneading the minced meat with our fingers - in a hygenic way of course! Heh.
Thereafter, it was a real test of the monkies' patience as we had to set aside the marinated meat for at least 2 hours. For best results, you can leave it overnight in the fridge.
The 2 hours felt like an eternity. At least TO ME, thanks to their constant nagging to check whether it was time to pop the meat into the oven.
Finally, the monkies had the chance to flatten the minced meat using a rolling pin.
We originally used the rolling pin to spread the minced pork onto the baking tray, so as to make it easier for the boys to spread the meat more evenly.
You can actually just use a spoon to spread the meat over the tray. Just ensure that the thickness of the meat isn't more than 0.5cm, and to wrap the tray with aluminium foil beforehand.
The hard work was all done! And we were just left to put the tray into the oven, set to GRILL at 150C for one hour.
After half an hour, we took out the tray and cut the meat into smaller rectangles. We then flipped them over, and put the tray back into the oven.
Another half an hour, and we were done!
Look who couldn't wait to try the piping hot bak kwa... Heh.
And the all important taste test?
Amazingly, it really tasted really close to the real thing! The one thing that was sorely lacking was the 'smokiness' taste. But this is expected since we didn't use a charcoal grill to roast the meat.
But compared to the ones bought at stores, this is definitely a healthier and fuss-free option!
Total cost price? Approximately S$3.50 for 250g of meat. That's only S$14 per kilo!
And the returns? Limitless fun for the boys as they got to learn how to make bak kwa on their own. :)
So... Watch out, all you Lim's, Chee's and Guan's out there... it may be our very first attempt but with just a little tweak here and there, our cheekiemonkies bak kwa may one day rival yours! Hahaha.
Just so as not to miss Ale out, here's a picture of her - savouring her 2 brothers' culinary effort.
And she wanted MORE after one tiny piece.
I think we got a winner here. :P