Singaporean Sweet Pork Jerky

Last week, a friend visiting from Singapore brought us a gift of pork jerky from one of the best jerky stores. I knew nothing of Singapore jerky and wasn’t expecting to be excited by it.

OH MY GOD. It was (i.e. it’s all long gone) so tender and flavorful. I’ve spent this week tracking down local businesses who specialize in making Singaporean-style jerky.

Unlike North American jerky, which is usually tough, salty, and made from beef, Singaporean jerky is tender, slightly sweet, not salty, and pork is one of the most popular types. It often goes by the name “bak kwa” (or bakwa, bak gua, bak kua).

I’ve discovered that the jerky is made two different ways, with some people preferring one type over another. It can be made from minced meat which is flattened into a thin layer then dried or it can be made from whole slices of meat. The photos in the post are of the latter type.

Singapore Pork Jerky

When held up to the light, it looks almost like stained glass. Mind you, it’s a meaty, delicious stained glass.

The one additional characteristic which makes this jerky unique is the grilling process. As a last step in the jerky making process, the sheets of dried meat are grilled which infuses the jerky with a robust flavor.

We’ve found four businesses in Vancouver BC which create Singaporean-style jerky. So far, I’ve tried two of the four. One isn’t worth mentioning as it was disgusting. The second one (in these photos) is amazing and comes from:

Bee Kim Heng
4194 Fraser St.
Vancouver, BC V5V 4E8

The shop is a bit of a dive but some of the best food comes from dives. To the left is a large drill covered in sheets of meat with a woman vigorously flipping them every few seconds. She wears a face mask to protect herself from the smoke rising from the grill.

Another woman takes our order at the counter, then disappears into the back to package our order. We opted for a half pound of regular pork and a half pound of spicy pork. She returns in a few minutes with freshly vacuum sealed jerky.

We rushed home and tore open the packages. Both are delicious. While the one from Singapore was more tender, the flavor from Bee Him Heng is spot-on.

I can’t stop eating it.

More bak kwa Singaporean pork jerky:
Bak Kua (Malaysian Jerky) – Rasa Malaysia
Bak Kua, Chinese Pig Candy – Serious Eats
Dried Pork – Bak Kwa (Recipe) – Lily’s Wai Sek Hong

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bellini Valli November 16, 2009, 8:14 pm

    Well it never ceases to amaze me that I can still learn something new every day. Only 4 hours to Vancouver:D

  • nina November 16, 2009, 9:27 pm

    I have to agree with Val, this is new to me! We have our version of jerky, called “biltong”! Grilling the jerky must add such delicious smokiness to the meat!!!

  • Hélène November 16, 2009, 9:49 pm

    I don’t usually eat jerky because it’s so hard to chew. It’s new to me that kind of jerky. Looks so tasty. Thanks for the link of the place, when I’m in Vancouver I’ll try it. BTW have you ever tried to make the Blueberry White Chocolate Bread from Terra Breads? I’m still looking for a copycat recipe.

  • kat November 17, 2009, 8:46 am

    OMG that sounds sooooo good

  • Sarah Smith November 17, 2009, 9:19 pm

    I’m from Singapore, and YES bak kwa is fantastic. It’s typically eaten during Chinese New Year, and during the weeks leading up to CNY what happens is a) the prices for bak kwa increase fantastically, and b) you get snaking queues at almost every single bak kwa store, regardless of the quality of the bak kwa.

    Other times of the year, prices aren’t as ridiculous and you don’t have to queue for it. As delicious as it is, it’s extraordinarily unhealthy =P And what we chinese call “heaty”, which means you’ve got to drink lots of water or something that’s “cooling”, like barley, or chrysanthemum tea.

    Do drop by Singapore soon, you can do a “taste test” amongst the various competitors! There are two hot favourites here: Lim Chee Guan, and Bee Cheng Hiang (well those are my two favourites, and very popular here). You’ll be amazed at what else they come up with (there are “coin” bak kwa – circular and typically more tender, as they’re made using minced meat; then there’s “gourmet” bak kwa, where they try to change things up by making it spicy, or using bacon, and so on. All as unhealthy as the next though.)

    Happy Eating! =)

  • Q November 18, 2009, 7:49 am

    so, that’s where you’ve been – searching for the yummy jerky!

  • Jessica November 19, 2009, 2:28 pm

    There’s also a place in Aberdeen, beside the produce stalls. Not sure if it is *exactly* what you’re looking for, but it is yummy nonetheless. :)

  • orbiter December 16, 2009, 8:01 am

    glad you like our bakwa!

    – a singaporean

  • _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver January 2, 2010, 8:11 pm

    My previous feed subscription to your blog stopped a few months ago! I was wondering what happened… and finally I realized that my subscription was faulty. But, it’s all good as I am now all caught up with your posts. =)

    And yes, as a previous commenter mentioned, have you tried the stall at Aberdeen Ctr?

  • Mary January 28, 2010, 8:04 pm

    Is this jerky similar to the Soo brand jerky that you can buy in vacuum-sealed packages at T&T?

  • Michelle March 5, 2010, 8:58 am

    Hey there!! I just found your AWESOME (seriously, awesome) blog and I really love not only the concept, content, and design of it, but also your writing style!! Of course, as an Asian who grew up on pork jerky and Bee Kim Heng (the Hong Kong branch of it), I am slightly biased. hahaha

    I can’t wait to read more!! I’m so glad that you enjoy pork jerky. You gotta try the spicy chicken jerky if you ever visit Asia. :)

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