Friday, January 23, 2015

How to Make Bak Kwa (Meat Jerky) At Home Without Oven

I know a lot of people do not have ovens in Singapore/Malaysia and are unable to bake chinese new year cookies or bak kwa (meat jerky) at home. This is also something that has been bugging me because I will be heading back to Singapore at the end of Jan, and I will be staying at my mum's place for the whole month of Feb, but my mum's kitchen has NO oven !!! Oh no, how am I gonna survive without an oven for a month? Which means to say I cannot bake my favourite CNY cookies or bak kwa in Singapore and I have to bake them here in my kitchen in Belgium and hand-carry them all the way 10,000km away to Singapore.  Anybody wants any air-flown bak kwa from Belgium? LOL.

This motivated me to do a little experiment on how to make bak kwa at home without an oven, using a rice cooker or wok. Yes, you hear me, a rice cooker or wok!


The colour of this photo has not been adjusted, so as to reflect the true colour and texture of my homemade bak kwa

Is that possible? Why not? Bak kwa has existed for generations in Singapore, I am sure in the old days, ovens were luxury items which could only be afforded by rich people, and the folks from my parents' generation have always relied on using charcoal stoves to grill their meat. I still have vivid memories of my late paternal grandma who used to bake her egg rolls over a charcoal stove in our kampong house.

I have actually baked my bak kwa 3 times all of which I have posted on my EEWIF facebook page; I used chicken meat for the first trial, and I set aside a piece of marinated minced chicken to be baked completely in a wok. For the 2nd and 3rd trials, I used mixed pork and beef and I set aside 2 pieces of marinated meat to be baked in my new philips multi cooker during my 3rd attempt.

Here are some pics of my experiment, pls excuse me for the poor lighting as it was really dark in my kitchen in winter.


I will briefly describe the steps taken for my rice cooker bak kwa experiment. Previously I have also done a chicken version in a wok.

1) First you need to buy some minced meat and marinate it well in advance, preferably overnight. You may wish to click on my previous recipe of Homemade Bak Kwa for the steps.

2) Prepare a piece of baking paper big enough to fit your rice cooker pot. Mine is a 10-cup Philips HD3037/39 multi-cooker so I used a square piece of greaseproof parchment paper or baking paper measuring 15 cm by 15 cm. 

3) Take 50g of minced meat and spread it as thinly as possible on the baking paper and place it in the rice cooker pot. If you are using a 6-cup rice cooker, you may wish to use a lesser amount such as 30g as the diameter of the pot is smaller. The meat has to be spread as thinly as possible otherwise you may end up with a piece of luncheon meat instead of bak kwa.

4) Press the "Rice" button for cooking white rice or the "Cake" button if your rice cooker has a cake function. This first step will serve to dry out the meat and make it stick as one piece. It took my multi-cooker 10 min for the meat to be cooked. My Philips multi-cooker has a cake function and a temperature control which I could set it to 150C. However you can perform this step as long as your rice cooker is a non-stick rice cooker with "Rice" or "Cake" function, the timing depends on how fast or how hot your rice cooker is. You should open the lid every now and then to monitor the progress. You may stop as soon as the meat is cooked and can be lifted off the baking paper as one piece. It will resemble a very thin piece of luncheon meat. The meat will not be charred easily at this stage since it is lined with baking paper.


5) Peel off the baking paper and drain off the excess liquid emitted. Lay the cooked meat back onto the rice cooker pot. You should only attempt this if you have a rice cooker with a non-stick pot. Press the "Rice" button again, or "Cake" button if any. Wait for the rice cooker to heat up, once it is heated up, leave the lid open and flip the meat frequently. It will get burnt very fast. If need be, switch off the rice cooker and grill it using the remaining heat. Note that I set the temp of my Philips multi-cooker to 180C for the grilling. However you can perform this step as long as your rice cooker is a non-stick rice cooker with "Rice" or "Cake" function.




This is the result of my first trial using my philips multi-cooker. I was too complacent. I just closed the lid of the multi-cooker and went about doing other things (I was also baking a batch in the oven). Oh gosh, it became chaotar (burnt) in no time, so fast that it really caught me by surprise since I tried to follow the same timing as in the oven.


1st trial (right) and 2nd trial (left). Oven-baked ones in the background.

After the 1st burnt piece of bak kwa, I got wiser and more experienced, and I reduced the timing for the 2nd piece and kept a close eye on it. For your info, my Philips multi-cooker allows me to set temp control for the cake function. I set 150C for the 1st bake, the purpose was to dry out the meat lined with baking paper. Then when the meat is cooked and can be lifted as one piece, peel off the baking paper and proceed to the 2nd bake, which I set the temp to 180C, to grill the meat just like in an oven or charcoal stove.



If I tell you one piece of bak kwa in the above picture was done completely in my Philips multi-cooker, will you be able to guess which one? :p

I hope you enjoy my mini tutorial on how to make bak kwa at home without oven. The same theory can be applied in a non-stick wok. Just line the meat with greaseproof baking paper and cook it in a wok over low-medium heat. Once it is cooked and can be removed as one piece, peel off the paper and put it back in the wok, turn the heat higher to medium heat, keep a close eye, and flip frequently. 

Doesn't it sound easy? Although this sounds very cumbersome as you can only do one piece at a time, but I hope those folks without an oven can give this a try and let me know how it turns out! Another tip is you can cook the meat using a rice cooker and grill it in a small toaster oven, which is what I plan to do at my parents' place in SG. :)


I am submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #5 - Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb 2015)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House. 


4 comments:

  1. Hi Bee, nice bak kwa you have made. Let me guess, the piece that is done completely using the multi cooker is the one on the front right just next to the mandarin orange?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Bingo! You are so smart! How did you know, hehe.

      Delete
  2. Very innovative and I would love to have a piece of your air flown bak kwa!

    ReplyDelete

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