Bakkwa (Hokkien: 肉干; BP: bbāhgnuā), also known as rougan, is a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product similar to jerky, made in the form of flat thin sheets. Bakkwa is made with a meat preservation and preparation technique from China. The general method for production have remained virtually unchanged throughout the centuries, but the techniques have been improved. It is often made with beef, pork, or mutton, which are prepared with spices, sugar, salt, and soy sauce, while dried on racks at around 50°C to 60°C. However, nowadays, products with a softer texture, lighter color, and less sugar are preferred.
In Malaysia, Singapore, Riau Islands and the Philippines bakkwa or bagua is the most widely used name derived from the Hokkien Chinese dialect. Cantonese speakers use the term yuhk gōn', Anglicised version long yok, while in China and Taiwan the product is more commonly known as rougan. Commercially available versions are sometimes labeled as "barbecued pork," "dried pork," or "pork jerky." Bakkwa is particularly popular as a snack in East Asia and Southeast Asia. In Beidou, Taiwan, it is regarded as one of the three pork delicacies.
Freshly made Chinese bakkwa
Cultural significance 
Bakkwa on display in a shop in Singapore
In Malaysia and Singapore, bakkwa has become a highly popular gift offered to visitors and acquaintances, as well as amongst corporate employees (some during the Chinese New Year). Bakkwa is becoming a favourite gift to hand out to friends and relatives during Chinese New Year. In Muslim-majority countries like Malaysia, halal chicken varieties of the snack may be used as a gift substitute. It may also be served in functions such as Chinese wedding banquets and religious ceremony dinners. While demand is particularly high during the festive seasons, it is also served throughout the year in various outlets as takeaway snacks or to be served together with main courses at home. The meat is commonly sold in red-coloured bags or packaging, an auspicious colour in Chinese culture.
Traditionally, bakkwa was made using leftover meats from festivals and banquets. They were preserved with sugar and salt, the preferred method prior to refrigeration, and then kept for later consumption. The meat from these celebrations is trimmed of the fat, sliced, marinated and then smoked. After smoking, the meat is cut into small pieces and stored for later. It is believed that the distinguishing feature behind the preparation was in the marination, and the recipe is often closely guarded.
Contemporarily, however, the meat is often prepared using fresh produce or imported pre-packed and pre-marinated from China, often barbecued in high-temperature ovens locally. Currently, two main variants exist, with more traditional ones involving minced meat shaped into slices (碎片肉乾), and the newer versions involving slicing off solid blocks of meat (切片肉乾). The latter, although more expensive, became increasingly popular due to its sturdier texture and healthier lower fat content. The meat is most commonly served plain and in square-shaped slices, though spicy versions are also popular. It may be cut into bite-sized circles to resemble coins, thus referred to as "Golden Coins" (金錢肉乾) for auspicious reasons during the festive seasons. More adventurous chains have attempted to introduce more novel ways of selling the meat. The products with the higher water content, thus having softer texture, and lower sugar content are generally known as the shafu type of bakkwa. Nevertheless, shafu can have similar shelf life as other bakkwa.
See also 
This audio file was created from a revision of the "Bakkwa
" article dated 2006-01-21, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help
- ^ a b c d e Leistner, Lothar (1999). Lund, Barbara M., et al., ed. The microbiological safety and quality of food: Volume 1. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-8342-1323-4.
- ^ International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods, ed. (2005). Micro-organisms in foods 6: Microbal ecology of food commodities (2nd ed.). New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-306-48675-3.
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