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8 Nov 2012

Bee Cheng Hiang’s Gourmet Bakkwa, Penang

Penang [檳城] • 8 NOVEMBER 2012
What exactly is the subject of these daydreams? It's the incredibly delicious, greasy, smoky strips of pork - generously smeared in spices and what I guess is honey - that's sold at Bee Cheng Hiang as Gourmet Bakkwa - basically, barbecued bacon.


Bakkwa is sort of like a Chinese style beef jerky, except usually made of pork. To make it you marinate lean minced pork with sugar, salt and other secret herbs, let it set in a thin layer before its smoked and grilled. The end product is a sweet/salty sheet of asado flavored meat. It’s good but I’m not really a fan of it as the lean meat mixture usually toughens up in the cooking process.


In the early 2000’s Bee Cheng Hiang came up with a recipe for “gourmet bakkwa”, using rashers of streaky pork belly instead of minced meat. The end result was so successful that they came up with a spicy gourmet bakkwa variety not long after. There’s a huge difference from the original recipe in terms of texture in that it remains tender and moist even days after they’re grilled. Not that it’ll actually last long after taking a pack home.
And so I snip open the sealed plastic bag and immediately its smoky aroma gives my nostrils a wake-up kick. My mouth instantaneously waters. I pry open the oil-soaked paper to unveil the mound of glistening, caramelized strips. I shudder as I sample a morsel; the fat just oozes with every bite and the flesh just melts in the mouth. An intense pork flavor fills my palate with hints of five spice and fish sauce.

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