Click here for this week’s smoky, porky, charred episode!
Chinese New Year’s been over for less than a month, but really, for fans of Asian Meat Candy, Bak Kwa should be a year-round treat! That’s why this week, our Makan Kaki, Owner & Executive Chef of PYXIEMOSS, Tim Ross-Watson recommends his favourite. But with the sheer number of Bak Kwa brands across the island, what sets this one apart from the rest?
Chef Tim swears by Kim Hock Seng for its history, tradition and persisting artisanal commitment to quality. This is a discreet little shop, easily overlooked along hipster central Keong Saik Road. Kim Hock Seng has been there for decades, producing bak kwa that is smokey, charred and full of that good old savoury-sweet pork flavour you remember from bygone days. That’s because the genial old gentleman at Kim Hock Seng still uses the time-honoured traditions of BBQ to create his bak kwa. Chef Tim loves that he uses a lot less sugar, preferring to let the natural pork flavour, lightly seasoned & spiced, shine through. After spending a long time chatting with him to find out more, Chef Tim discovered that his bak-kwa-making process is as pain-staking as it is time-consuming. Basically, everything is done by hand.
Firstly, the choicest cuts of pork are selected for their fat content and tenderness, which result in perfectly chewy yet succulent bak kwa. Next, the meat is hand-ground to a rough mince, then spice and seasonings are added, after which thin, large circular slabs of the mince pork are rolled out and then small fires are lit under the smokers.
The huge rounds of flattened, seasoned & spiced minced pork are then laid out on equally huge, round bamboo mats, ready for the huge smoking cupboards, in which they are left to smoke for a full 24 hours. It takes years & years of experience to control the fire and smoke, which are kept going overnight.
Once the 24-hour overnight smoking is done, the circular slabs of meat are sliced into the recognisable squares and then barbequed over a charcoal grill for extra smoky flavour. You can really taste the hand-made, artisanal quality of the end product!
Kim Hock Seng’s best-selling Sliced Bak Kwa goes for $52/kg. And while it sounds strange, they also sell fruits during the day. Kind of a balance between healthy and not-so-healthy, perhaps? Although it does kind of make sense when Chef Tim explains he often buys pineapple together with his bak kwa, because the tangy-tart fruit cuts through richness of the bak kwa beautifully.
KIM HOCK SENG BAK KWA
34 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089141
Open Daily: 10.30am – 10.30pm
Tel: 6221 4882
* All pictures via facebook.com/kimhockseng