I've not been blogging too much recently, trying to save my posts for recipes that are really worthy of publishing. I finally found one in this wonderful dish and then, literally as it was in the fridge marinating, fellow blogger and recent acquaintance From Chopstix to Steaknives goes and blogs the exact same recipe. It seems I'm not the only one with obscure little Malaysian cookbooks to pilfer recipes from and post on the web.
After cooking and eating and the girlfriend describing it as 'the best thing you've cooked since I've known you' (which spans 8 years) I have to go through with the post though. Also the cookbook calls for the meat to be dried in the sun till at 70% weight before being barbecued and as both us bloggers are currently London based, and January London based at that, we've had to figure out our own ways to cook it, which differ. It's up to you to see which one you prefer.
I first encountered this pork in Singapore where the street vendors quickly cook the thin sheets over charcoal. The sugar caramelises, combining with the smoke and fat into a most enticing aroma that lingers in the air. The same pork is all over Kuala Lumpur too, where a yellow and red fronted chain sells it both fresh and in packs, even down to little individually wrapped bite-size pieces. I discovered very quickly that this sweet, salty and chewy pork is very much like crack in its addictiveness, big bags disappeared as if there was a whole in the bottom. Searching the floor it was clear the only place it had fallen was down my throat though.
For some reason I'd never thought about making it until last week when I looked through said cookbook and the recipe sat before me. Whilst I couldn't dry it in the sun I thought a low oven may help and so cracked on. I'm glad I did as it somehow hardly suffers from the lack of cooking over charcoal, first bite and I was instantly back in KL, even down to the lovely cool air-conditioning - although that may well just have been London in January.
Bak Kwa - Chinese Barbecued Pork - Recipe
Makes 8 pieces, so you probably want to double or triple the recipe
300gr pork mince
90gr caster sugar
1/2 TB fish sauce
Scant 1/2 TB oyster sauce
Pinch of bicarb of soda
1/2 ts light soy
1 TB rice wine
Mix all the ingredients and leave in the fridge overnight.
Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper to fit in a standard (35cm-ish wide) baking tray then place the pork on top, patting out well with your hands. Lay a sheet of clingfilm on top then roll the pork out with a rolling pin until it is maybe 5mm thick, at which point it should pretty much cover the paper.
Slide the paper onto the baking tray and dry the pork in an 80C fan-oven for 45 minutes.
Remove, cut the pork into 8 and then place on the rack of a grill pan, so air can circulate around it for the final cooking.
Turn the oven up to 200C and cook the pork for 10 - 12 minutes, turning once, until is reddish-brown and starting to char around the edges.
Leave to cool for a few minutes then demolish in its entirety in 5 minutes flat.