Red Dot Kitchen Blog — southeast asian


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.