Bak Kwa | 雞肉乾 | Chinese BBQ Chicken Jerky

Updated: Feb 6

This is a very popular treat during the lunar new year festive season, especially in Singapore. People will queue for hours upon hours just to get their hands on some really pricey Bak Kwa. It has become my household tradition to make this every year.


I am not bragging, but just like fine wine, my humble recipe has aged well with a little help from my friend: @beerswithdave. Check out his profile and give him a follow while you are at it.


Loving how rustic it looks...


Dave shared some ideas on how to enhance the flavors. Those ideas inspired me to push the boundaries to the best bak kwa I'd made thus far. The process is long, but it is worth it. I am also proud to say that I do not use any food coloring or highly processed super-refined sugar like most eateries do.


I used 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 maple syrup. Trust me, maple syrup adds another layer of flavors.


Look at the glossy shine...


You can also replace Chinese Rose Wine with Hua Tiao, Shao Xing, Sherry Wine or even Rose Cordial. You might wanna try your luck at a local Chinese grocery store or simply order online via Amazon.


Instead of spending huge dollars and hours standing in line to buy these for the Chinese New Year, why not make them at home? Here I wish you lovely people a very Happy Lunar New Year!


 

Ingredients:

(Serve 4)

  • Brine:

  • Water, 1 Liter

  • Sea Salt, 50g

  • Liquid Smoke Preferably Stubb's Hickory, 10g

  • 6 Chicken Thigh Skinless Boneless, About 700g

  • Marinade:

  • Fish Sauce, 1.5 TBSP

  • Dark Soy Sauce, 3/4 TBSP

  • Light Soy Sauce, 3/4 TBSP

  • Chinese Rose Wine, 1.5 TBSP

  • Sesame Oil, 1.5 TBSP

  • Maltose Syrup / Maple Syrup, 1.5 TBSP + More For Brushing

  • Liquid Smoke Preferably Stubb's Hickory, 1.5 TBSP + More For Brushing

  • Chinese 5 Spice Powder, 1 TSP

  • Demerara Sugar, 75g

  • Dark Muscovado Sugar, 75g

  • Cinnamon Powder, 1/2 TSP

  • Coriander Powder, 1/2 TSP

  • White Pepper, 1/2 TSP

  • Sriracha Powder / Smoked Paprika, 1/2 TSP Adjust To Preference

  • Mushroom Powder, 1/2 TSP

 

Equipment:

  • Oven

  • Food Processor / Meat Grinder

  • Smoking Gun + Hickory Wood Chips (Optional)

 

Directions:

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

  2. Prepare the brine.

  3. In a large bowl, add water, salt and liquid smoke.

  4. Stir until the salt has completely dissolved.

  5. Add in the chicken thigh, making sure it is fully submerged.

  6. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 24hrs to 48hrs.

  7. Prepare the marinade.

  8. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients.

  9. Mix until well combined. Mix, mix, mix.

  10. I did not use any salt as the chicken has already been brined.

  11. *A quick tip. If you are using maltose syrup, it can be 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.*

  12. If you have a meat grinder, grind the chicken thigh with your meat grinder.

  13. If not, you can use a food processor.

  14. Coarsely dice the chicken thigh into bite-size cubes.

  15. Blitz until coarse ground. You don't wanna take it too far, or they will become a paste.

  16. Transfer the ground chicken into the marinade.

  17. Fold until well combined.

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

  19. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius or 360 fahrenheit.

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

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

  22. Using a rolling pin, roll and spread out the chicken into a rectangle or whichever shape you desire (it really doesn't matter), as evenly as you can, to about 1/8 inch thick.

  23. Remove the top parchment paper.

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

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

  26. Wack into the oven and bake for 8 mins.

  27. *While the jerky is baking, keep the rest of the chicken mixture in the fridge until ready to use. Mix 4 heaped TBSP of maltose and 2 TBSP liquid smoke until well combined. The ratio is 2:1. Keep it warm on a double boiler to liquify. You can skip this step If you are using maple syrup.*

  28. Remove the jerky from the oven.

  29. Brush the chicken with the maltose mixture.

  30. Wack into the oven and bake for another 8 mins.

  31. Remove the jerky from the oven and set the oven to roast mode.

  32. Flip the jerky and brush it with more maltose mixture.

  33. Wack into oven and roast for 3 mins.

  34. Remove from oven, flip and brush the jerky with the maltose mixture.

  35. Wack into the oven and roast for a final 3 mins or until the edge is lightly charred.

  36. Remove from oven, set aside to rest and cool before serving.

  37. Repeat the process for the remaining chicken.

  38. If you have a smoking gun, infuse the jerky with some hickory smoke for 5 mins just before serving.


Happy Lunar New Year!

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