11 Mar 2015
Bak Kwa Jam
It’s quite ridiculous, really. Bak kwa is sold all year round, yet come Chinese New Year, we happily stand in line for hours and pay a lot more for that pleasure. And because the spirit of abundance is in full swing, we often find ourselves with a surfeit of the barbecued meat long after the ang pows have been spent.
What do you do with leftover bak kwa, then? You make bak kwa jam, of course. Heck, you don’t even have to wait for leftovers. Impress your visitors with a jar of this sweet-salty treat served with a few soldiers of toast on the side. Or with keropok. And then have it with pancakes for breakfast the next day. After all, this also has bacon in it for a savoury kick. And you don’t even have to use premium bak kwa for this since you’re going to cook it down.
Ingredients: Makes about 2 cups of Bak Kwa jam
5 rashers of bacon, chopped; 8 shallots, chopped; 2 cloves of garlic, chopped; 8 slices of bak kwa, chopped; 6 tbsp of maple syrup; 1 tbsp of fish sauce; ¼ cup of brandy; 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar; and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1. In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat without oil, stirring until the fat is rendered and the bacon lightly browned. This should take about 15 minutes.
2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
3. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet.
4. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the reserved bacon, bak kwa, maple syrup, fish sauce, brandy and vinegars.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the bak kwa turns soft.
7. Taste and add more fish sauce, maple syrup or vinegar if necessary.
8. Turn off the heat.
9. Transfer the jam to a blender or food processor. Pulse till roughly chopped (you don’t want the mixture to be smooth — you want some chunks of bak kwa in there).
10. Let cool and transfer to airtight containers. Keep refrigerated for up to a month.
11 Mar 2015
Tobiko Mayo Dip
Another way to elevate bak kwa (not that it needs elevating)? Especially if you can’t cook? Take your cue from the way Japanese chefs serve dried puffer fish with an umami dip of tobiko (flying fish roe) mayo. It’s a simple, clever way to make your bak kwa extra special — and er, even more calorifically yummy. Don’t say we didn’t warn you
Ingredients: Makes 1/2 cup
5 tbsp of Japanese mayonnaise; 1 tbsp of regular mayonnaise (try Hellmann’s); and 5 tbsp of tobiko roe (buy from the sushi section of supermarkets.
1. Mix all the ingredients together and stir.
2. Serve alongside neatly cut strips of bak kwa. The dip will keep in the fridge for a day; two at most.
11 Mar 2015
More brilliant ways to stretch your bak kwa stash
• Tuck a few slices of bak kwa between two slices of bread dipped in egg and milk and fry up some bak kwa French toast.
• Stir chopped bak kwa and pork floss into rice porridge for oomph.
• Chop bak kwa and add to fried rice or your favourite cookie recipe.
Text by Annette Tan