Making of bak kwa (CNY series part 1 of 6)

Pictures by: 
Gary Goh
Report by: 
Celine Chen

Meat

Chilled meat is imported from Indonesia, Australia and the United States. It goes to the butcher who then chops up the parts. Only the hind legs and forelegs are used. The meat cannot be too young or too old. Young meat, those which are a year old and below, are not meaty enough while meat that is too old tend to be less tender and harder in texture. Chilled meat is also good for hygienic reasons. Compared to raw meat, it is less likely to be contaminated.

Cutting

The meat is cut up and placed in plastic bags to be frozen.

Slicing

The meat is sliced and ready to be thrown into the mixer.

Marinating

This is one of the secret parts of the process because it is where all the ingredients like sugar and sauce are thrown together into a metal mixer.

Spreading

After marinating, the meat is weighed precisely and placed on a sieve made of bamboo. Expert hands quickly sweep the meat across the sieve, evening out the surface to get them ready for barbecuing. Mr Lim was tight-lipped about how thick the meat had to be spread, except to say that the thickness has been predetermined by the weight. Skill is important at this stage to ensure that the meat is spread evenly. Although this step is easily accomplished by a machine, Mr Lim prefers to rely on the human touch. “Their hands are so used to it that they can feel the evenness of the spread,” he said.

This article was first published in The New Paper on February 6, 2013.