For the uninitiated, the Hokkien word bak kwa refers to dried meat that resembles a jerky, which originated from Fujian, China. Centuries ago, it was a luxurious treat that the working class in China used to savour during Chinese New Year as meat was considered expensive for a daily snack.
Today, bak kwa has become such a norm for us to consume that it is available all year long. However, many households still hold on to the tradition of making or purchasing these juicy pieces of meat for loved ones and friends to enjoy during CNY. No doubt the traditional bak kwa is a win in our books, but we discovered that there are lots of new – and not to mention fancy – flavours available in the market that you can consider trying.
Instead of enjoying them by yourself, why not send it over as gift packages to your family, friends and work associates since you can’t meet them this year? Here are eight unique bak kwa flavours we’ve rounded up for you to order this CNY.
1. BBQ Ostrich Meat
Perfect for: The cousin who is a night owl
Many people (especially youngsters) enjoy staying up late to catch up on dramas, play games, chat with their friends and read books as it is peaceful, unlike in the daytime. If you have a cousin who loves doing those things and waking up in the afternoon looking for food, this BBQ Ostrich Meat is a gift he’ll appreciate! Imagine seeing these lean slices of mouth-watering dried meat that’s made of premium ostrich meat together with a secret blend of spices, light soy sauce and pepper sitting on the dining table when he gets up feeling hungry the next day. If your cousin doesn’t want to eat it on its own, he can opt to put it between two slices of bread and turn it into a sandwich, making it the perfect brunch!
Available at: Wing Heong
Price: RM75 (500g)
2. Mini Ez Cheese Bak Kwa
Perfect for: The cheese-loving relative
If you’re a cheese lover, you’d understand what we mean when we say that some people can have cheese to go with any type of food! Be it sweet or savoury, they’re always game to add some cheese into their meal and find out how the combination of flavours tickles their taste buds. The best gift for such a relative? This box of cheese bak kwa! The slices of meat are prepared in smaller packs so that he/she can have it anywhere, anytime. Vacuum sealed for ease of consumption, these tiny packs hold minced pork bak kwa that’s covered in customised cheddar. Unlike other flavours of bak kwa, this one is more savoury and to get the most of it, we recommend placing the mini packets in hot water for a few minutes first.
Available at: Bee Cheng Hiang
Price: RM60 (300g)
3. Mini Wasabi Pork Dried Meat
Perfect for: The ex-colleague who’s crazy about Japan
Some of us might know people who love everything related to the Japanese culture – from anime to kabuki, manga, kimonos and the never-ending sushi options. Here’s a creative innovation of the bak kwa that will make this person’s eyes light up – wasabi bak kwa. Yes, you read that right! This flavour of bak kwa comes in mini vacuum packs and is made of dried meat with the addition of wasabi. We can only imagine the look of satisfaction on your ex-colleague’s face as she bites into these sweet slices – and ultimately, when the heat from the wasabi slowly travels up to her head!
Available at: Loong Kee
4. Spicy Meat Jerky
Perfect for: The weight-conscious sister
In every family, there is always someone who claims that she wants to lose weight but will not refrain from munching on anything and everything that’s placed in front of her. If your sister (or SIL) happens to be one of them, then get her this spicy meat jerky to ‘ease’ her worries. Made from premium minced meat, each slice is immersed in distinctive flavours of homemade spicy Nyonya sambal sauce (H20 recommended on hand!). If yours is isn’t a fan of spicy food, she’ll still get the satisfaction of indulging in these spicy slices of dried meat but you know she won’t be eating too much of it that she’ll start complaining about putting on the pounds after every bite!
Available at: Yuen Chen Siang
Price: RM61 (500g)
5. Guinness Bak Kwa
Perfect for: The uncle who’s been working tirelessly
Back in the day, Guinness ads were one of the highlights in magazines as it had somewhat taught us to believe that no matter how hard our day has been, it’s always good to take a break and have a pint before bed. This past year has been quite a struggle for many of us, more so for the older generation, and this box of limited-edition Guinness Bak Kwa is a brilliant idea to gift that uncle who’s been working tirelessly to make ends meet. The finely-sliced pork meat that’s been marinated in malted barley gives it a bitter-sweet taste, making it the best thing to chew on while he catches up with his children and reminisces of the good ol’ days. If anything, this box of bak kwa might even give him a boost of positive energy, making him feel cheerful and appreciated throughout the festive season!
Available at: The Beer Factory
6. Red Wine Bak Kwa
Perfect for: The aunty who enjoys clinking glasses with her friends
One of the best things about #Friyay is when you get to sit in a cosy diner and catch up with friends over a glass of wine. However, with the MCO currently in place, this sounds like a dream that won’t be happening anytime soon – at least until it’s considerably safe for us to step out of the house again. If you have an aunty who enjoys red wine with her friends and is terribly missing these catch-up sessions, get her this box of Red Wine Bak Kwa that we reckon will lighten up her mood instantly! Produced from lean meat and bits of fats, every piece of this bak kwa is thinly sliced using a machine to ensure a consistent thickness. But rest assured, every other part of the production – from marinating the meat in red wine to shaping and roasting it, is done by hand. As a result, the bak kwa has a sweet finish with a tinge of bitterness and is chewy, making it the perfect afternoon or evening snack.
Available at: Hock Moon Hiong
Price: RM88 (500g)
7. Spin For Luck Luck
Perfect for: The experimental foodie
Friends who love to go food-hunting and cafe-hopping are the best as they’re willing to try new dishes all the time! If you have such friends, why not get them this stylish wooden bag-like box that’s filled with 50 pieces of bak kwa as a gift this CNY? When they open it up, they’ll be in for a surprise as they’ll find a spinning wheel that will help them decide which flavour of bak kwa to indulge in first. Consider this as an all-in-one treat as there are 10 variants of bak kwa from Bak-Off by Oloiya that comprises flavours that are familiar to our Asian taste buds: Bak Kut Teh, Black Pepper, Chilli Sambal, Curry, Garlic, Nasi Lemak, Salted Egg, Szechuan, Tomato and Tom Yam. The combination of these flavours will definitely remind them of all the #foodfun that they’ve had with you in the past and they’ll look forward to more foodie adventures once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Available at: Unbox by Huff + Puff
Price: RM178/box (+RM10 for a personalised message with 10 characters max in Chinese or English)
8. Dehydrated Fruit Bak Kwa
Perfect for: The vegetarian at heart
Can something that’s not even meat be called bak kwa, you ask? Well, we also bet that many vegetarians out there are wondering, ‘What’s so great about barbequed dried meat that’s being sold everywhere?’ Thanks to creativity, research and innovation, now there’s something for them to indulge in too! This box of fruit bak kwa is free from all forms of additives, preservatives and sugar (no kidding!). Made from fresh pineapples and dragon fruits that are sourced locally, your friends can expect these bak kwas to be slightly chewy (and not crispy) when taking a bite. The coloured slices of the fruits will definitely not make them feel left out from all the feasting and photos they can snap for the 'gram during this festive season!
Available at: Fruit First