Welcome Bacon Fans!
A big hot and sweaty Singapore welcome to you, dear reader, if you’ve clicked on over from the fantastic www.baconismagic.ca.
I am such a big fan of the intrepid Ayngelina and her blog. If you’ve been following her for a while you’ll know she’s what a North American would call awesome and an Australian would call a top chick. Possibly even capitalized. A real Top Chick.
My guest post on Bacon Is Magic was my first ever. So I’m thrilled you liked it enough to click on over.
For those who have no idea what I’m on about, check out my Porky Postcard From The Far East.
A Porky Postcard From The Far East
You’ve gotta love a country where people give bacon as a gift. Pork presents are so popular in Singapore that temporary shops have sprung up everywhere to meet the demand for bak kwa in the lead-up to the Chinese New Year.
Queuing for the city-state’s finest barbecued pork is considered a Chinese New Year tradition in Singapore. Oh, to be wealthy and have a “helper” to queue for you. (Singaporeans call their domestic staff helpers, rather than maids.)
Bak kwa is translated as barbecued pork and is usually sold in thin square sheets. It looks like plastic but tastes fantastic. The chewy-sweet-salty porkiness is addictive. There’s a hint of exotic spice, there’s a sweet stickiness that has to be sucked off your fingers, there’s a satisfying chewiness. What more could you want from a meat?
The first day of the Year of the Rabbit falls on February 3 this year. And so things are hotting up in the already-hot city-state of Singapore. I’ve only ever bought 100 grams at a time so no one has bothered to tell me how long bak kwa keeps for.
“It is the embodiment of a perfect gift – a joy to give and a delight to receive,” says the packaging on the first bundle of bak kwa I bought from the esteemed Kim Hock Guan barbecued pork chain, which has been practicing the “art” of barbecued pork-making for four generations. “It is an art that has been refined and continually researched on to satisfy even the finest gourmands,” the packaging says.
Kim Hock Guan, which first set up shop in 1905, is Singapore’s oldest bak kwa making company. There’s an outlet within walking distance of my house, in the groovy urban village of Katong.
Rival bak kwa chain Bee Cheng Hiang has a shop opposite my local supermarket. It is also good and my Darling Man says it’s better than Kim Hock Guan’s. A week before CNY, as Chinese New Year is known here (Singaporeans just love acronyms), and my local Kim Hock Guan has a queue and a horde of extra servers.
Buying Bak kwa is a very serious matter. Unfortunately, the customers I could hear intensely interrogating the bak kwa shop staff were speaking Chinese so I have no idea what to ask for to get the best barbecued pork. People were buying $40 or $50 of bak kwa, which was packaged up beautifully in little red cardboard carry bags. Red and gold are very lucky colours for the Chinese and at CNY just about everything is red and gold, from lanterns to paper pineapples. (And I have no idea why pineapples are a CNY decoration.)
I found a recipe here for home-made bak kwa. I haven’t tried it but it looks good. I’m not sure I want to try sticking slices of oily meat into my toaster though. That sounds like something the baby will do soon enough. Although she’ll probably put the meat into the DVD player.
Next time you’re in Singapore, keep an eye out for
Bee Cheng Hiang at 1359 Serangoon Rd, 189 New Bridge Rd and on the basement level of Parkway Parade shopping centre, 80 Marine Parade Rd. Kim Hock Guan is at 150 South Bridge Rd, 180 Bencoolen St and 107 East Coast Rd.
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