Bak Kwa: What is it and Why is it Popular During Chinese New Year in Singapore?

28 January 2016
<p>Pork Bak kwa </p>

Pork Bak kwa 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or hiding out under a palm tree, you know that Chinese New Year is just around the corner. You know what to do and not do, you know where to catch the fireworks, you know about the “prosperity toss.” Here is one more way to make like a local and enjoy this festive time of year: eat and or give the gift of Bak Kwa.

 

What is it?

Bak Kwa is dried meat, similar to jerky. Bak Kwa is generally sliced thin and cut into squares. It can be made from beef, pork or mutton and while it traces its origins to Southern China, it is particularly popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Often times the meat is grilled over charcoal to give it a smoky flavour, then blended with a combination of spices, soy sauce and sugar. It can be used as an ingredient in other dishes or enjoyed on its own.

 

Why is it a popular choice for a Chinese New Year snack or gift?

Traditionally, Bak Kwa was an expensive, luxury food and as such became popular during Chinese New Year when families wanted to welcome prosperity for the coming year and offer lavish gifts for friends and family.

While it not as expensive as it once was (generally about $50/kg), it is still a traditional Chinese New Year food and welcomed gift for friends or relatives.  

 

Where can I get it?

While it is relatively easy to find this year, these spots consistently rank among the “best” places to buy it in Singapore:

  • Bee Cheng Hiang, Island wide. Check locations here.
  • Lim Chee Guan, #01-25 People’s Park Complex Singapore / #B4-37 Ion Orchard, Tel: 6227 8302 /6509 3776
  • Kim Hwa Guan, People’s Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road #01-1022, Tel: 9006 2026
  • Kim Joo Guan, 257 South Bridge Road, Tel: Tel: 6225 5257

Finder Tip: Our friends at The Straits Times are sharing some secrets on how to skip the long queues for Bak Kwa.

 

By: Kathleen Siddell, January 2016

Photo: 123rf.com

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