For the benefit of non-Singaporeans/Malaysians, Bak Kwa aka ‘Rou Gan’, is a sweet-savory Chinese pork jerky. It is often made with pork although there are other variations such as beef and chicken. The pork is marinated with sugar, salt, soy sauce and spices before air drying on bamboo racks for hours. The marinated meat is then grilled over hot charcoal to attain that signature smoky aroma. What you get in the end is thin square pieces of sweet and savory succulent barbecued meat that taste better with every bite. Okay, you can wipe that drool off your mouth now.
That being said, today’s recipe is not about making Bak Kwa. This is one product I would happily buy off from my favorite Bak Kwa stores. Have you heard of the expression “One’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach”? Yep, I’m a typical example. I was running some errands in Chinatown few days ago and before I knew it, I ended up buying 1 kg (slightly more than 2 pounds) of Bak Kwa. Feeling extremely guilty after polishing off nearly half of it, I gave some to my parents and used the rest to make these Crispy Bak Kwa Cookies.
There are quite a number of Bak Kwa cookie recipes online but most of them have a melt-in-your-mouth kind of texture. Since Bak Kwa is slightly chewy, I prefer a crispier texture for my cookies. This recipe is adapted from my Almost Famous Amos Cookies recipe, to which, I made some slight modifications.
1 cup (150g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup (45 g) instant oatmeal – grind into powder with a blender or food processor
1/8 cup (15 g) ground almond powder
1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter – softened at room temperature
5/8 cup (100 g) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (67 g) caster sugar
1 medium-sized egg
4 slices (140 g) Bak Kwa – cut into small pieces
makes approx. 50 small cookies
Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oat and almond powder together.
Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract to the egg and beat to combine. Pour into the butter mixture and mix for another minute.
Add the flour in 3 batches to the butter egg mixture. Mix at a low speed until flour is combined. Stir in the chopped Bak Kwa.
Line a baking tray with baking sheet. Use a small teaspoon to scoop the cookie dough and drop onto the baking tray. Make sure to space them about ½ inch apart.
Bake for 20 mins until golden brown. If you are making large cookies, bake them for at least 27 mins or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and set them on a cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before storing in air-tight containers. They can be kept for up to a week. Freeze leftover cookie dough and defrost for at least 30 mins before baking.