When I was a wee lad, I remember sharing a piece of Bak Kwa with my grandmother every now and then. My mom will always try her best to prevent me from eating too much as I have a tendency to overeat—and leave nothing for our new year guests.
Because of how much I love Bak Kwa, my grandmother would always buy a packet in secret and share it with me. Yeah, Those were the good ol’ days.
With the Lunar New Year is just around the corner, I’m once again reminded of the fond memories I share with my grandma. Now that I am finally a working adult, it’s finally my turn to buy her some Bak Kwa.
That being said, here are 10 facts about various traditional Chinese food you probably didn’t know about—something to keep you entertained while you’re queuing up for a packet of Bak Kwa.
1) The legend of Bak Kwa
It should come as no surprise that the Bak Kwa is the first item on the list. However, do you know how this delicacy came about in the first place? Allow me to tell you more.
In the past, people were not as well off as we are now and meat is an expensive delicacy most families couldn’t afford to eat on a regular basis. As a result, many families chose to preserve the meat in order to enjoy it over an extended period of time.
During the festive seasons, families and friends would take out their piece of preserved meat and share it with everyone else. People started calling this piece of meat “Bak Poh” （肉脯）and it became the predecessor of Bak Kwa.
Eventually, everyone started gifting each other the luxurious Bak Kwa and it has since evolved into a staple for the Lunar New Year.
2) Flavours of Bak Kwa
I did mention that the Bak Kwa has evolved, right? It’s no longer just a slab of salty preserved meat. Nowadays, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to the type of Bak Kwa available for purchase.
If you’re someone who prefers something spicy, the chilli Bak Kwa would be perfect for you!
Then, for those who prefer something a little different, there’s also the bacon Bak Kwa! That’s like mixing the two of the best things in the world into one irresistible dish.
(Boy, would you just look at that glistening meat)
Check out the different flavours from Fragrance here.
3) Types of Bak Kwa
Most of us would just assume that Bak Kwa is pork, right? Well, you’re not wrong to think that way. After all, we’ve all gotten accustomed to eating pork Bak Kwa. In fact, when I told my classmate that Bak Kwa didn’t have to be pork, he looked as if the world has ended for him.
It took me awhile, but I somehow managed to convince him when I brought him to a Fragrance Bak Kwa store nearby.
The packaging looks something like this:
His eyes widened from excitement when he saw the Chicken Bak Kwa. After all, it was something new to him!
It didn’t take much persuasion before he pulled a couple of packets off the shelves!
(… Mrs Tay, I’m (not)sorry for converting your son into a Bak Kwa lover)
4) How long can you store Bak Kwa?
Ahh, the age-old question. To be honest, I am convinced that you can keep a pack of Bak Kwa forever. I actually have a packet of Bak Kwa tucked away in my freezer compartment for close to a year now.
And it’s still edible (try me).
Look, I am not telling you guys to try doing this. Bak Kwa should be eaten fresh to preserve all its juicy goodness. If you’re planning to leave it on the table, all I can say is to finish it within a week! You wouldn’t want a fresh pack of Bak Kwa to go stale, right?(Dude, that’s sacrilege)
You can lengthen the shelve life of Bak Kwas by putting it in a freezer, but the age-old rules apply here: use your eyes and nose to decide how long you can keep that piece of Bak Kwa.
5) Making your own Bak Kwa
Well, of course you can make your own Bak Kwa. After all, people in the past used to do that(Refer to point 1).
But I really think it’ll be more economical for you to just buy premade Bak Kwa at a store. Price of the ingredients aside, I don’t think everyone has an oven or a charcoal stove at home.
Ultimately, there’s still the issue of quality. How sure are you that your Bak Kwa will be nice? Although I love to cook, I wouldn’t want to offer someone a pack of my homemade Bak Kwa, you know.
TL;DR: Just buy your Bak Kwa from a store lah.
Fragrance, a well-known Singapore brand, has been in the market since 1969, and their Bak Kwa is based on time-honoured recipes. Yeah, so leave it to the experts. After all, you just got your bonus, no?
6) The tale of the Meat floss
I could go on about Bak Kwa forever, considering the history behind our favourite meat dish. But a man’s gotta stop when a man’s gotta.
Next up, we’ll be talking about the meat floss. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love a bowl of rice with pork floss! Heck, I could even finish an entire pot of rice with just a nice serving of pork floss (though my colleague thinks it goes better with porridge, but to each his own lah).
So, how did the meat floss come about?
Well, there are many versions of the story but the meat floss is mainly the product of an accident. The stories all revolve around someone overcooking a piece of meat and in an attempt to salvage the situation, added all sorts of seasoning to the meat, resulting in the creation of the meat floss.
Who knew an accident could be so delicious, right?
6) Types of meat floss
Think pork floss is the only type of meat floss in the world?
Oh, you’ll be surprised.
A quick look at Fragrance Bak Kwa’s website will say otherwise. Lo and behold, ladies and gentlemen:
Now, I know about chicken floss—but fish floss? Now that’s something new even for me! I have no idea how it would taste, but I’m sure it won’t disappoint! (I mean, you can’t exactly go wrong with meat floss, right?)
Still, I think the pork floss will still remain as my top pick no matter what! There’s just something about the classic flavours, if you would agree with me.
7) Options for New Year pastries
Hello, pineapple tarts and love letters! Every Lunar New Year, these are the pastries we would definitely see on our tables(not to mention they’re the main reason why we’re getting fat).
Truth be told, I was never a fan of pineapple tarts (Blasphemous, I know) and I’m sure some of you aren’t either. Hence, it’s always awesome when my relatives offer me something different.
…bet you didn’t know about the options other than the traditional pastries, huh?
As such, here’s an attempt by a simple guy to persuade you into buying something everyone might like.
That’s right. Salted. Egg. Products.
Name me someone who doesn’t like salted egg chips. I know you can’t.
It’s like the best thing to buy for Lunar New Year and for you to become the best uncle/aunty in the eyes of your nephews and nieces.
You can get them from any Fragrance outlets.
Now, is it just me or the egg character looks deliciously cute?
9) Best drink for Lunar New Year
Okay, this might just be me, but don’t you guys find sweet drinks to be overwhelming during Lunar New Year?
I mean, we’re already eating flavourful food like Bak Kwa and Salted Egg Potato Chips. A can of soda is a little bit much, don’t you think? In an attempt to chug down more Bak Kwa, I’ve come to the realization that unsweetened hot tea is the best drink to go with Bak Kwa.
With that, finishing one kilogram of Bak Kwa all by myself is no longer a dream!
(My proof of victory against 1KG of Bak Kwa)
(Editor’s note: It’s a #truestory)
10) Multi-purpose gifts
Do you know that you can give Bak Kwa as a gift even if it’s not the Lunar New Year? There’s nothing explicitly stating that you can’t!
In other words, if your friend loves Bak Kwa (hinting my colleagues), I’m pretty sure he/she wouldn’t mind receiving a packet for his birthday!
If you’re planning to make things a little interesting, you can consider gifting the special variety of Bak Kwa too!
I’m pretty sure not everyone has tried crocodile meat before:
Or, you can also consider giving them the Kurobuta Bak Kwa!
Well, well. The pig-shaped Bak Kwa is a nice touch! I’m sure the kids will love it too!
With something as atas as Kurobuta, you can expect nothing less from the packaging as well!
Looks like a perfect gift, don’t you think? Everything’s wrapped nicely and it looks really presentable!
Well, look at me rambling on.
Pretty sure it’s going to be your turn to purchase the Bak Kwa soon! Be sure to buy more Bak Kwa for your guests this year coz’ you’ll never know if someone like me will visit your house!
Now that you’re armed with these facts, it’s time to impress your friends and relatives during your Lunar New Year gatherings!