The Low Down on Bak Kwa: A Quick Lesson About THE Snack of 2013
Obviously here at Little Red Dot Kitchen we are major Bak Kwa fanatics – snacking on this Southeast Asian protein-packed meat snack until there is no more left to snack on. But while our Bak Kwa has just recently made its delicious debut in the United States, this trending low-sodium, high protein, wheat-free/gluten-free charcuterie has quite a rich (and tasty) Asian history with its addictive street food roots in Singapore, Malaysia, Macau and Taiwan - versions that's unique to their own regions.
First things first: what the F@#$% is Bak Kwa?! Spelled bak kwa, bakkwa, bah kwa and bak kua – despite how your friends may say it, the proper pronunciation is “/buck-ku-ah/” Let’s say it together now, this time channeling Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman: “BUCK – KU – AH.” Very good.
While some like to call it long yok, others rou gan and many just Malaysian/Singaporean/Asian style barbecued snack, but no matter how you like to say it, there’s one thing that all us enthusiasts can agree upon: we’ve gone LOCO for Bak Kwa!
Directly translating to mean ‘barbecued dried meat’ in the Hokkien dialect, the sweet, savory and smoky charcuterie originated with the Fujian people way back in the day -- dating as far back as the 16th century. Back in that time meat was quite the hot deluxe commodity, where every last ounce was saved for consumption. So what happens when there are meaty leftovers with a short shelf-life in the need for some immediate preservation to be saved for later? Thinly slice those bad boys up, smother a flavorful marinade and grill -- all so it lasts long time.
Used as a way for meat preservation, Bak Kwa became part of regular snacking in Singapore and Malaysia, where it exploded onto the food scene (who doesn't love bacon?). While traditionally made from pork that had been marinated in sweet and savory sauces, it was dried on racks at about 130°F (optional, and there about), then barbecue-d and served in small thin squares. Overtime this favorite snack has transformed and matured in variety, with a wide selection of flavors, sizes, shapes, spice levels and even different proteins like beef, bacon, chicken and turkey Bak Kwa charcuterie.
Considered a delicacy in a time when a form of refrigeration was a luxury, Bak Kwa was saved for special occasions, especially the Chinese New Year where it was customary to celebrate by popping open a bag of Little Red Dot Kitchen’s very own recipe... well, maybe not our exact recipe, but it was pretty close.
With an immense amount of flavor in every meat-iful bite, this unique street food snack in Singapore and Malaysia has not only began to explode onto the culinary scene worldwide, but it's also known to cause a severe addiction for those who are snack and bacon lovers!