Grilled Pork Jerky (Bak Kua)Steven Raichlen
A cross between a pork sausage patty and jerky, bak kua is a sizzling wafer of sweetened, spiced, cured, grilled minced pork.
Grilled Pork Jerky (Bak Kua)
- Advance Prep: 24 hours to cure and dry the meat in the refrigerator
- Equipment: Parchment paper or waxed paper; a rolling pin; a rectangular cake rack or metal grid about 14 x 18 inches, lightly oiled
- 2 pounds very coarsely ground pork (about 20 percent fat)
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher and sea)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- 2 tablespoons kejap manis (sweet soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, preferably the Koon Chung brand
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon rose water (optional)
Step 1: Place the pork, brown sugar, ginger, salt, black pepper, cayenne, five-spice powder, and MSG, if using, in a large mixing bowl and stir or knead to mix. Stir in the kejap manis, hoisin sauce, rice wine, and rose water, if using, and mix well.
Step 2: Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit an unrimmed baking sheet and dampen it. Place the dampened paper on the baking sheet and mound the pork on top, spreading it out into a rough rectangle. Place another piece of damp parchment paper on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the pork mixture into a broad thin sheet about 12 x 16 inches and 1/4 inch thick.
Step 3: Peel off the top piece of parchment paper and place the oiled wire rack on top. Turn over the rack and the baking sheet with the pork on it. Remove the baking sheet and peel off the remaining piece of parchment paper. Place the rack with the pork on a rimmed baking sheet, then place everything in the refrigerator and let the pork air-dry for 24 hours.
Step 4: Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F. Bake the pork mixture on the rack until dry, about 1 hour. You can also do this on a grill set up for indirect grilling.
Step 5: Let the pork mixture cool to room temperature, then cut it into approximately 3-inch squares. Store the squares of baked pork in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to grill. They will keep for at least 3 days.
Step 6: Se up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to medium-high.
Step 7: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the pork squares until sizzling and nicely browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Serve the pork jerky hot off the grill as a snack.
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