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.
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.