Bak Kwa

We had a picnic among friends just in the past weekend. It was perhaps the largest we had organized with over 50 adults and children attending. We could not have chosen a better weekend as the day was simply beautiful and a great time to be outdoors. Feels like summer already to us!

It was a pot luck picnic and as usual, everyone tries to bring something unique to the picnic to share. Suanne had a great idea to make something new for a change — Bak Kwa (or Rougan in Mandarin or Yoke Kon in Cantonese). Bak Kwa is basically dried meat … perhaps like the western Jerky but not quite. Bak Kwa is miles better than any Jerkies in the world, I swear.

Surprisingly the way to make it is a simple process although it could be tedious and time consuming to prepare the slices. There is a two step process … the first is to prepare dried slices from minced meat (Suanne used pork) and then the second part is to grill it to release the juiciness.


The pictures below does not do justice to the taste. Well, it was my first time grilling the Bak Kwa but really it should look like this (click here). However it looked, it actually tastes not bad … not great but really good.


Update 03-Mar-2010: Someone wrote that this recipe originates from the site Lily’s Wai Sek Hong. Because this recipe had been posted almost 3 years ago, I cannot recall exactly where this recipe originates from.

Here is how you make it …


  • 1 kg ground pork (from the part called Mui Tao Sao)


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 200g sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1/8 teaspoon five spiced powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kam cho (licorice) powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons rose wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey


Click on the link below for the instructions.


_MG_5163_edited-1Season the ground pork with the marinating ingredients and mix thoroughly.
_MG_5165_edited-1Leave the pork in the fridge overnight or at least for four hours for the marinates to permeate the pork.
_MG_5168_edited-1Preheat the oven to 175F.

Place dollops of the marinated pork on a baking sheet and try to spread the meat as thinly as possible to cover the whole sheet.

_MG_5171_edited-1Bake in the 175F oven for 15 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch.
_MG_5173_edited-1Use a paper towel to absorb the excess oil from the partially cooked pork before cutting it into smaller pieces.
_MG_5177_edited-1Layer the pork pieces in between layers of aluminum foil to prevent them from sticking together.
_MG_5181_edited-1Here is a thin piece of the bak kwa in comparison with a fork.The bak kwa is now ready for grilling or wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and freeze until needed.
_MG_5252_edited-1Grill the bak kwa in medium heat to prevent burning.The meat does shrink quite a bit after grilling.

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  1. Ada

    Hi Ben and Suanne,

    I have been reading your website and I just think it’s amazing! I was originally from Hong Kong but lived in Singapore for 5 years when I was a kid and really misses the food there and in Malaysia. Reading about your blog bring back those good memories! Wow, I’m impressed that you know how to make bak kwa.. I think I’ll try it myself too.. but I have a question, what is licorice powder?? I’m in San Francisco… dont know if they sell it in the chinese stores.. if so.. what is the name in chinese? Can I leave it out?


    PS: I lived in Vancouver for 14 years before moving down to SF so I have been/heard of a lot of the resturants you blogged about… Oh, and I love Kam Do too! =D

  2. Ada

    Never mind!! I figured out what kam cho is… Gum Cho, some sort of grass but in powder form right? Ok, I get it. I’ll search around chinatown to see if they have it.. thanks again! Oh by the way I enjoyed reading your UK posts too. I”ll be there in Sep for 2 weeks for work and I really craved chinese food the last time (didn’t know where to find them!) With your post, I’m gonna take the underground and go to that BBQ store to have BBQ!! =D

  3. Suanne

    Hi Ada, you are right on the Gum Cho. I bought mine from a Chinese herbal store and it only cost $1 per oz. If you really cant find the Gum Cho, just add a bit more of the five spiced powder which also consists Gum Cho in it.

  4. Elly

    Tks for the recipy. I love how you show each step. Have been wanting to make Yoke Kon for a long time. Now that I can see what u do I will try making it.
    What is Mui Tao Sao in English. Is it a Cantonese word?

    Cheers Elly

  5. Suanne

    Hi Elly, when I asked the butcher what is the English term for Mui Tao Sao (yes, in Cantonese), he said he did not know but it’s something close to pork butt. You need a little bit of fats so that the meat is tender. One of my friend who tasted it said it’s too lean while Ben said it’s a tad too fatty. So, it’s up to your preference on how fatty you like it. I remembered someone recommended 20% fat would be perfect. If you make it with chicken meat, the thigh meat would be the preferred meat.

  6. Chubbypanda

    Looks good. I wonder if using a meat drying box would work. There’s one I’ve been meaning to build for making jerky. This would be interesting to try with it

  7. Pamela K.

    I love reading your blog and the awesome recipes!My question might be rather silly but I am very curious. I see mentioned quite often ‘community kitchen’ …. just what is this??? Thank you in advance,
    Pamela K.

  8. Suanne

    Hi Pamela, community kitchen is a service provided by the Family Services of Greater Vancouver. It’s where a group of people meet together in a community setup with a large kitchen like community centers, churches, etc. The members share recipes and demonstrate in the kitchen and enjoy the labour of their love. Members share the cost of the food. It’s a great place to learn new recipes and many times from other cultures and also a great place to practice English for new immigrants. This is a great place to meet new friends.

  9. rose

    i have been looking for this recipe for a long time but no luck; thanks for sharing!

  10. rose

    hi suanne:
    thanks for sharing this recipe with us; i live in the east coast; i can’t find the ricorice powder; however i have licorice roots that i sometimes would use like teabags. i figure if i grind up a small amount of the roots; that would be able to yield enough powder to spice it up.

  11. Suanne

    Hi Rose, you certainly can grind up the licorice root and use it for the recipe.

  12. rose

    hi suanne:
    all the ingredients are in my grocery list. i can’t wait to make this “bak-wa”. will let everybody know on the outcome.
    great site, it’s definitely my mostly visited site!

  13. rose

    hi suanne:
    it turned out very nice. i played around using ground turkey mixed with ground pork and even make it a little spicy! all i have to do after the pre-bake is to throw them in the toaster oven, and i have a very tasty “bak-wa”. i recalled the vendors used a little fatty part, and it almost glazed, but i just want a leaner one. great basic recipe, and the licorice makes a difference from other kind of jerky style meat.
    thanks for sharing it with us.

  14. Darrell Martin

    I just flew home from SIngapore with 2 POUNDS of Bak Kwa which I got in Chinatown. It ws fresh, delicious, vacuum sealed, labeled and …confiscated at SFO customs. Had to declare such a huge packages as that.

    Thank you for the recipe, gonna have to make my own.

  15. Wenny Tan

    Can you tell me what is “kam Cho (licorice) powder” is? What is it made from? Where can I mostly find it? If I can’t find it, can I replace that with something else? Is this ingredient plays a major part in this dish?

  16. Suanne

    Hi Wenny, licorice is a root plant which has a sweet flavour. It does give the Bak Kwa it’s flavour. You may find licorice powder in Chinese herbal store.

  17. Jenny

    Hi Suanne
    Thanks for sharing the recipe, I will try it when I’m off work. Have not had this for years as I have been living in the UK >25 yrs and only go back to Msia/Sin once every 2 or 3 yrs. This is an interesting site and I’m sure to visit this more often for other mouth-watering recipes from home.

  18. indiegrunge

    hi there i was just wondering if you need to add any coloring to get the red color of the bak kwa, or if there’s anything that will give the redness that bak kwa has?

  19. Suanne

    Hi Indiegrunge, there is no food coloring in this recipe.

  20. JennaT

    Hi Suanne,
    Am thinking of making these for my Muslim friends to try. Is it possible to substitute rose essence in place of rose wine?

    1. Suanne

      Hi JennaT, I guess you can do that. The rose wine gives it the flowery aroma. No pork for Muslim though. You have to substitute with other meat like chicken.

  21. JennaT

    Thanks Suanne… ah yes… definitely will be pork and wine free. 🙂

  22. Chris

    Thank you, Suanne, for the recipe. You are so right that bak kwa (I always knew it as “yong loke”) is better than any jerky. I’m an American guy who visited Malaysia years ago on business. I remember getting a little piece of yong loke from a stall on Gurney Drive in Penang. I quickly went back and bought something like 500 grams of it and my girlfriend (future wife) and I sat on the esplanade overlooking the water and ate every last bit of it.

    Now, I can’t wait to try making it myself. Also, am anxious for my order from asiasupermarket365 to arrive (thank you, “T”, for the link).

    Now, if I could just find some decent rendang and nasi lemak here in Oregon … 🙂

  23. Jen

    Hi Suanne,

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. 🙂

    What kind of ground pork do you use? We have lean ground pork and ground pork options here in the states. I tried making it tonight, but found a lot of excess water after baking (probably from the pork itself?). Also, do you know the Chinese word for licorice powder? I omitted that in my attempt because I didn’t have it on hand.

    1. Suanne

      Hi Jen, you’ll find the answers to your questions in the comments section of the post.

  24. jack

    Hi Suanne, I’m a Korean and I’ve got to know you by the website. I’ve tried many times the bakkwa is not stretchy enough. I want to do a business in korea using the Bakkwa, I wish you can give me a help. I would be really thankful if you visit Korea and teach me or send me a video. I will pay everything.I really need your help.Thank you.
    Pls reply fast.

  25. Ben

    Hi Jack: For Bakkwa, you really need someone from Malaysia or Singapore. Just experiment with recipes from other websites, maybe they will be able to help you. So, did you say that you are from Korea? Strange. Ben

  26. jack

    thank you.
    Could you recomand me another web site?
    pls help me.

  27. Laura

    Hi! Chinese New year is only 3 weeks away and my family and I are longing for some bak kwa. Any idea where I could get them from in UK? Thanks.

    1. Ben

      Hi Laura: We would not know. We are in Vancouver BC, Canada and not the UK.

  28. chanps

    From Penang, quite sure your receipe same as in Lily,s receipe. Someone is pagarizing, should really attach an acknowledgment.

  29. Maggie

    HI I tried your method of making bakkwa and they taste really good! However after left them on the table for about an hour the fat start to form and settle on the surface of the bakkwa. It still taste the same but just didn’t look nice.

    Have you seen this problem before and do you have any solution for it?


    1. suanne

      Hi Maggie, I have not encounter the problem because the bak kwa did not last more than an hour as I only made them for gathering and they are gone as soon as they were off the grill. You can try to drain the fat on paper towels after grilling.

  30. Evelyn

    Wow, I have to try these BawKwa recipe… but I only have Beef at the moment and will try it out a batch and see how it goes. If it is good will let you know and would go for better quality pork. Wish I knew earlier when I was in the Middle East. Being in Scotland now is still worthwhile to give it a try. Thanks for all your instruction.

    1. Ben

      Hi Evelyn: Even if the bak kwa is not as good, please share with us your experience. The bak kwa that Suanne made could be improved. It was too small due to shrinkage when grilled. This is a very nice picnic thing to make. Try it in the summer and I am sure it will be a hit. Ben

      1. Evelyn

        I did a batch of beef (cheap quality mince beef) bak kwa… mmmmmm.. not bad. Look good taste fair i must say. Ingredients need to be improved, but i think it will be better in the summer when we can use the proper barbercue matter. Seasoning for mine is not sweet enough, will try to tweet it a bit next time. Texture is very good – if you have any idea on how to improve the taste (like the one we buy in singpore) would like to hear from anyone. Thank

        1. Ben

          Hi Evelyn: I think pork would be a bit more sweet tasting than beef. Don’t try to go too lean. it is awful if it is lean. Ben

  31. rahel8877

    Hmmmm sedapnya makan daging salai,tapi saya tak pandai buat,lain kali kena belajar buat sebab dah ada resepi kat sini.Ben,saya copy u punya resepi bak kwa ye.

    1. Lissa

      I pun tak pandai buat tapi kalau nak makan, kena belajar. I beritahu rakan I di Malaysia. Kalau I tinggal situ, I tak perlu belajar masak pun. Keluar makan dah-lah…. 🙂

      1. Ben

        Betul, apa you cakap, Si Lissa. Kalau gua lagi di Malaysia, gua tiap tiap hari pun keluar makan. Sana murah tapi sini mahal-lah. Hehehe … My Malay boleh pakai-kan? Ben

        1. rahel8877

          Ben,di Malaysia memang banyak makanan yg murah,tapi kalau bak kwa di Malaysia agak mahal,mungkin mahal menurut saya,jadi lebih bagus lg klu sendiri buat.

      2. rahel8877

        Lissa,saya suka pergi makan di restoran cina,makanannya sedap2 semua.Dari dulu sampai sekarang tetap kagum dg resepi org2 cina.Kalau tengok AFC tak berkedip mata melihat org cina siapkan masakan.Hehehe..panjang pulak komen.

  32. Evelyn

    Ben … Malayu boleh… bakus, my malay spelling is really rotten, can understand can read but cannot spell well… me singaporean lah.

    I did make a batch of pork bak kwa, as u said it is sweater than beef but i do need to barbecue it over the wood fire and not over the electric stove… wait till winter over. Even the beef one that I make has gone down well with my guest.

    You are all in Canada??
    Regards Evelyn

    1. Ben

      Hi Evelyn: Hehehe … your Malay need polishing up! BTW, yeah, we are in Canada … Vancouver BC, specifically. Where are you from? UK? Ben

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