How to make a Halal, non-pork bakkwa, a delicious Chinese sweet and savoury jerky snack with chicken or beef.
Bakkwa, or rou gan, is a staple when Chinese New Year rolls around. Bakkwa is a barbercued meat snack that is the delicious blend of sweet and salty.
As a non-pork eater, I always feel left out… until! I decided to make my own. So I looked through a few traditional bakkwa recipes, went through a couple of rough batches of beef bakkwa, before finalising on this recipe and technique!
Deng Deng – Beef Bakkwa?
While the Chinese have bakkwa for Chinese New Year, the Malays have our own rendition of it – deng deng! During Hari Raya, back when night markets were still a thing, there would be stalls hawking freshly grilled beef bakkwa, known as deng deng. Most deng dengs are made with beef, but it’s common for chicken versions to available as well, albeit not as popular as the beef deng dengs.
The taste slight differs though, deng dengs tend to be more greasy, savoury and spicy than bakkwa. Deng dengs also have more spices in them, namely cumin, but every vendor will have their own unique special blend. I absolutely adore deng dengs! It’s my favourite snack ever whenever I visit night markets.
Perhaps due to this, I prefer a more savoury bakkwa! I I find the traditional bakkwa recipe to be rather sweet, so I would tone down on the sugar levels for my own personal stash. This recipe stays closer to the original sweet bakkwa flavours, so feel free to lower the sugar if you also prefer a more savoury bakkwa.
I also added some cayenne pepper for a subtle hint of spice, making this quickly becoming one of my most favourite savoury snacks ever.
How to Roll Out Bakkwa?
Bakkwa is a thin, rolled out sheet of meat. Achieving this flattened sheet is a lot easier than expected.
All you need is:
- A non-stick oven pan – to flatten the meat on and use to cook as well
- Rolling pin or a round bottle – to roll out the meat
- Cling film or baking paper – to keep the rolling pin clean and ensure a smooth roll each time! The meat is sticky! Even though cling film is a bit trickier to work with, I prefer it since I can see the meat as I roll it out.
To flatten it out:
- Place the meat on the non stick oven pan. You have the option of layering on baking paper if you’re worried the meat might stick to the pan.
- Lightly press down the meat on the pan, and layer over with cling film or baking paper.
- Roll over the meat with the rolling pin or a round bottle to create an even, flat layer.
If there is a tricky part, it would be flattening it evenly. You want a thickness of 0.5 cm, but really, as long as it’s an even layer, you’re good. It should not be too thin either, or you might end up with thin, dry meat slices versus a succulent slice.
How to Cook Bakkwa?
I was surprised that it’s actually very easy to make at home.
In the video, I baked the bakkwa twice. The first round was to cook the bakkwa, the second round is to the bakkwa slices on the ‘broil’ setting of my oven. I find this the best way to achieve that charred, grilled effect, without an actual grill. Grilling it would be more authentic, but since most of us do not have a (or do not want to) grill at home, roasting it in the oven on broil is the next best option.
No broil function? Just use the regular oven setting!
No oven? Pan fry this!
Chicken or Beef?
In the video, I showed two recipes for minced chicken and beef. Either recipes are interchangeable! Any other meat of choice will work as well.
With the beef, I used frozen minced beef. Since you’re adding quite a bit of seasonings in it, and allowing time to marinade, you don’t have to use the best quality, or even fresh minced beef.
Although I’m more of a beef girl, I actually prefer the chicken bakkwa here. Chicken is a lot milder in meat flavour compared to beef, so it took on all of those sweet and savoury flavours extra well.
If using chicken, I recommend getting boneless chicken thighs and mincing it at home. The resulting mince meat is a fatty, juicier bakkwa, versus using the typically leaner ready-made ground chicken.
With chicken, here’s a cheat trick you can try! Add a couple drops of red food colouring, so that it would look even more like pork bakkwa!
How to Eat Bakkwa?
Bakkwa is served as a snack, to be munched on like you would potato chips. However, it can be used in a myriad of ways and as actual ingredient. One of best ways to use up leftover bakkwa is to add it to fried rice. In recipes that call for lap cheong, or Chinese sausages, you can also easily replace with bakkwa.
More recipes like this
If you love this bakkwa recipe, you might enjoy these too:
Beef Bak KwaCourse: Eats, Recipes
400g Mince Meat
30g Brown Sugar
20g White Sugar
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Oyster Sauce
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Dark Sweet Soy Sauce/Kicap Manis
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne Powder (optional)
- Honey Glaze
1 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Water
- Combine mince meat of choice together with all ingredients above. Marinate for minimum 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Baking the Bakkwa
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Spread the marinated mince onto a baking pan. Lay cling film over and use rolling pin (or round bottle) to flatten the mince into an even layer in the baking pan. The thickness should be approximately 0.5cm.
- Bake the meat layer in the oven for 15 minutes.
- At the 15-minute mark mark, take the pan out of oven, and gently flip the meat layer over to the other for an even bake. Before putting it back in the oven, drain away any excess liquid.
- Another 15 minute in the oven, and the bakkwa should be cooked through. Cut into square or rectangle pieces and keep to one side. If baking a few batches of bakkwa, bake all of the bakkwa first before moving to the glazing portion. later, take out. Cut into square pieces and place onto mesh rack.
- Glazing and Broiling the Bakkwa
- Set the oven to roast or broil setting at 200°C.
- Combine the honey and water to create a honey glaze. Place the bakkwa slices on an oven rack, and brush the top of the bakkwa with the honey glaze.
- Place the oven rack close to the top of the oven. Adjust according to your oven type, but for most, the top is where the ‘grill’ or ‘broil’ heat would emit from.
- Let roast for 5-minutes or so, until the top is shiny and some parts would have developed some charring.
- Repeat with the other side. Flip over the meats, glaze and roast. Done!