Bak Kwa | 肉干 | Chinese BBQ Chicken Jerky

Updated: Feb 6

This is an updated version.


*I had adjusted some ingredients with help from a dear friend, @rentalman2 . Check out his profile for some awesome craft beer and landscape photography.*


As you already know, I do not eat any other cuts of meat, except for chicken. You can imagine how wonderful I feel when I finally get the taste and texture right for this Festive Chinese New Year treat. This is a very popular treat during this festive season. People will queue for hours upon hours just to get their hands on some Bak Kwa. You're right, they are super pricy during this season.



This is my humble chicken version. I am proud to say that I do not use any food coloring or highly processed super-refined sugar like most eateries do. I use maltose syrup to get that sticky consistency. If you are having a hard time getting your hands on maltose syrup, you can replace it with pure honey or even maple syrup. You can also replace Rose Wine with Hua Tiao, Shao Xing or Sherry Wine. You might wanna try your luck at a local Chinese grocery store or simply order online via Amazon.



Lastly, I brushed the bak kwa with more maltose syrup with a touch of liquid smoke to get that glossy shine and smokey flavor. My daughters commented that it tastes exactly the same or even better; better texture, better taste and of cos better ingredients. Instead of spending huge dollars and hours standing in line to buy these for the Chinese New Year, why not make them at home?


Ingredients:

(Serve 4)

  • Chicken Thigh Skinless Boneless, 500g

  • Fish Sauce, 1 TBSP

  • Dark Soy Sauce, 1/2 TBSP

  • Light Soy Sauce, 1/2 TBSP

  • Rose Wine, 1 TBSP

  • Chinese 5 Spice Powder, 1/2 TSP

  • Demerara Sugar, 50g

  • Japanese Red Sugar / Dark Muscovado Sugar, 50g

  • Maltose Syrup / Pure Honey / Maple Syrup, 1 TBSP + More For Brushing

  • Cinnamon Powder, 1/4 TSP

  • Coriander Powder, 1/4 TSP

  • White Pepper, 1/4 TSP

  • Sesame Oil, 1 TBSP

  • Smoked Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Sriracha Powder / Smoked Paprika, Pinch

  • Liquid Smoke, 1 TSP

  • Hickory Smoking Chips (Optional)

Equipment:

  • Oven

  • Blender / Food Processor / Meat Grinder

Directions:

  1. Please visit my "How To Make Chinese 5 Spice" page for the recipe.

  2. If you have a meat grinder, that's great. Grind the chicken thigh with your meat grinder.

  3. If not, you can use a blender or a food processor.

  4. Cut half of the chicken thigh into small pieces.

  5. Blend or process them up in batches.

  6. *Do not over blend or process them. Stop once the meat is ground up.*

  7. Transfer the ground chicken into a large mixing bowl.

  8. As for the remaining half of the chicken thigh, use a cleaver, chop into fine pieces.

  9. Chop as finely as humanly can.

  10. Transfer the chopped chicken into the same bowl as the ground chicken.

  11. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the liquid smoke.

  12. Mix to combine well. Mix, mix, mix.

  13. *A quick tip. Maltose syrup is difficult to work with at room temperature. After measuring out, transfer to a heatproof bowl and let steam for about 5 mins or until the maltose is liquified.*

  14. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge overnight.

  15. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius or 360 fahrenheit.

  16. Transfer about 2 heaped TBSP of the chicken onto a parchment paper.

  17. Place the other parchment paper on top of the chicken.

  18. Using a rolling pin, roll and spread out the chicken into a square as evenly as you can, to about 1/8 inch thick.

  19. Remove the top parchment paper.

  20. *Do not discard, as you can use it for your second batch.*

  21. Transfer the chicken with the bottom parchment paper onto your baking tray.

  22. Wack into the oven and bake for 10 mins.

  23. *(Optional) For some extra smoked flavors, you can add some smoking chips into a large bowl covered with aluminum foil. Set it on a light fire and place it at the bottom of your oven while baking the chicken.*

  24. Mix 2 heaped TBSP of maltose and liquid smoke until well combined.

  25. *Keep it warm on a double boiler for easier handling. If you are using honey or maple syrup, you can skip this step.*

  26. Remove from the oven.

  27. Brush the chicken with the maltose mixture.

  28. Wack into the oven and bake for another 10 mins.

  29. Remove from the oven.

  30. Set oven to roast.

  31. Brush the chicken with more maltose mixture.

  32. Wack into oven and roast for 5 mins.

  33. Remove from oven, flip and brush the chicken with maltose mixture.

  34. Wack into oven and bake for a final 5 mins or until the edge are lightly charred.

  35. Remove from oven, set aside to rest and cool before serving. It will taste better the next day.

  36. Repeat the process for the remaining chicken.



This is the 2019 version.

Smoked version:


I also included a smoked version with the help of my NordicWare's Stovetop Kettle Smoker. It is optional. But I would recommend smoking these Bak Kwa. Yes, it does lack texture but sure makes up for flavors. And I mean, complex layers of flavors.


Directions:

  1. For the smoking method.

  2. *If you are using this smoked method, replace smoked salt with sea salt.*

  3. If you have a smoker, I would highly recommend smoking the chicken jerky. Although it lacks texture, it makes up for flavors.

  4. I am using NordicWare's Stovetop Kettle Smoker.

  5. Follow the procedures as per instructed manual.

  6. After the chicken had been marinated, transfer about 2 heaped TBSP of the chicken onto a parchment paper.

  7. Place the other parchment paper on top of the chicken.

  8. Using a rolling pin, roll and spread out the chicken into a circle (smaller than the kettle smoker), as evenly as you can, to about 1/8 inch thick.

  9. Remove the top parchment paper.

  10. *Do not discard, as you can use it for your second batch.*

  11. *Keep maltose warm on a double boiler for easier handling. If you are using honey or maple syrup, you can skip this step.*

  12. Smoke for 15 mins, remove the cover, brush with the maltose.

  13. Cover and smoke for another 15 mins.

  14. Remove cover, flip and brush with the maltose.

  15. Cover and smoke for a final 10 or 15 mins or until the edges are lightly charred.

  16. *I would suggest, taking the temperature higher than stated in the instruction manual, cos we want those charred edges.*

  17. Remove from smoker, set aside to rest and cool before serving. It will taste better the next day.

  18. Repeat the process for the remaining chicken.



Here's the recipe video:



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