Red Dot Kitchen Blog — charcuterie


The Low Down on Bak Kwa: A Quick Lesson About THE Snack of 2013 0

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.

THE meat snack trending 2013
Over the years, the demand for Bak Kwa grew, especially around the holiday times, where it became a popular holiday gift in Malaysia and Singapore. Today, it’s commonly given as a porky present between relatives, acquaintances and coworkers, while tourists are also known to be massive consumers of Bak Kwa where it has become an almost obligatory food souvenir.

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!

1st San Francisco Debut 0

Just like Scott McKenzie sang: "For those who come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there, in the streets of San Francisco, gentle people with Bak Kwa in their hands."

For the first time, Little Red Dot Kitchen will be showcasing our irresistibly delicious Southeast Asian Charcuterie at the Union Street Festival, one of San Francisco's largest festivals, in June 2 & 3 (Saturday & Sunday). More information regarding the festival can be found HERE.

Bring your family & friends along, and we will satisfy your cravings with a taste of Singapore!

[caption id="attachment_186" align="alignnone" width="490" caption="San Francisco Union Street Festival"]Little Red Dot Kitchen Booth# 1735[/caption]

Bak Kwa is Ridiculously Good Charcuterie 0


Lots of people who have tried Bak Kwa (pronounced /Bah-Coo-Ah/) asked us just what is it?

Well, many has likened our Bak Kwa to jerky because of it's snack-like, grab and go characteristic of a protein packed meat snack. But unlike jerky that's typically dehydrated and salt cured, Bak Kwa requires extensive crafting - you've got to select whole meat with just the right amount of marble, grind them but not to finely, then marinate for at least 24 hours, form and finally grill each piece of meat until they're perfectly caramelized with just the right amount of burnt ends.

The end result is smoky, juicy, savory-sweet Bak Kwa that's really addictive. It's different from your regular jerky from gas station, it won't cost you your molar and certainly deserves better to be labeled as jerky.

We gave it a lot of thoughts and found another word for it: Southeast Asian Charcuterie.

It is Southeast Asian because of where Bak Kwa (or Bak Kua) originates from Southeast Asian countries Singapore and Malaysia. Charcuterie means the art of cooking and crafting meat products. So here you have it!

A little bit of interesting history: 

Charcuterie is particularly well developed in regions and countries where rearing pigs has been a long standing tradition, such as the Auvergne, Alsace, Italy and Germany in the West; to China, Japan and Russia on the other side of the world.  Historically, the Roman porcella law fixed the manner of rearing, feeding, slaughtering and preparing pork, and recorded literature speculated that the Romans were probably the instigators of pork butchery as a trade.  It wasn’t until 1475 that, in France, an edict of the provostship of Paris granted to maÎtres chayrcutiers-saucissiers-boudiniers the right to sell cooked and prepared pork flesh (and also fish during Lent).  In 1476, these tradesmen formed a special category, distinct from the roaster (or oyers, with whom they have been confused until then), but they still formed part of the corporation of butchers.  Later in 1513, the chaircuitiers (from chair, ‘flesh’ and cuit, ‘cooked’) gained the right to lay in a supply of pork meat directly, without being obliged to go to the butchers.

In Pan-asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia, charcuterie is also fondly called Bak Kwa. It is a favorite meat snack and well-received gifts during festivals such as the Lunar New Year. It is considered a delicacy and certainly worth it's weight in gold because of how delicious it is.