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.
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!
Our packaging: Why the Sombrero? 0
Yes, the cow's wearing a sombrero.
But why the colorful, wide brimmed mexican hat on the face of our beef bak kwa packaging, many asked.
Well, that's because we're taking our traditional bak kwa for a Californian spin. In the west coast, and especially in California, we're particularly influenced by Baja style cooking that uses smoky hot Chipotle peppers. There's a saying, "live in California once, and it makes you soft for burritos". Ok, I lied. There's no such saying, but you get the point. :) How fun would it be infusing something uniquely Californian into our bak kwa?
So there, a tribute to the land where we're now transplanted to - a marriage of flavors between Southeast Asia and California - and a sombrero!
Now, since we're taking a spin on the new spicy chipotle bak kwa, it's got to be spun right. Bak kwa has been our fond childhood snack, and as we grow, we sorta got to keep our waist lines in check. It was a challenge alright, making snacks that's good to eat, has got nice heat, and calories that no one can beat.
A shot of spicy chipotle beef bak kwa
All sorts of beef cuts were evaluated, possible farmers were chased down and butchers consulted to help us figure out the best way to de-fat trims, to get the cuts right and immerse our meat in seasonings that'll give the right kick on the palette.
Notice the sprinkles of spices, pop of red and slightly charred ends? That's because the beef is handsomely marinated with local & organic spices, smoky chipotle, cayenne peppers, onion, with just the right amount of sweetness coming from our local strawberry farm. We then grill our beef like how bak kwa should be grilled to retain its juiciness to create the slightly burnt ends.
Check out our selection visit our online store HERE, and for Bay Area folks who lives in San Francisco, we are closer than you think, come visit us at one of our Farmer's Markets locations at Brisbane, Redwood Shore & Sunnyvale for a taste!
In a way that jerky is jerky is jerky, and there's a distinction between jerky, biltong and bak kwa. There's simply no comparison when a piece of meat is grilled!