With the coming of the Lunar New Year, this Chinese sweet and fragrant pork jerky is a-must in most homes, whether traditional Chinese or Peranakan.
I recall following my Cantonese maternal grandmother (married into a Peranakan family) to Chinatown as we fought the crowds and vendors who suffocated the narrow streets with their merchandises, barely allowing room for anything else to pass through let alone any car. But the grill fumes from preparing this meat treat was always a welcomed sight as the fragrant smoke wafted in the air to tempt the passerby. Invariably, my grandmother would stop at her favorite stall to purchase a few pieces for her grandchildren whom she adored.
Having left Malaysia for further studies, it was difficult to find long yok in the United Kingdom, and impossibly so when I moved to USA. But nostalgia is the mother of culinary invention. A few years ago, I started to notice recipes popping up on the internet. I gave them a try but I was not quite satisfied with their rendition. With some experimenting and tweaks, here is my version that is a close as I remember the flavors that I grew up as a child.
The recipe is very simple to make. However, the secret ingredient that I do not see in other versions is the use of Chinese licorice powder which is best grounded from slices of the dried stems. I am quite sure this will be hit with your loved ones as it is with my folks.
Printable Copy (link)
Yield: 650 grams/ 1.7 lbs
Preparation Time: 4 hours 15 minutes (minimum) – 4 hours for marination
Baking Time: 1 hour
Grilling Time: 15 minutes
2.2 lbs/ 1 kg minced pork
200 grams/ 1 cup/ 240 ml white sugar
⅛ teaspoon 5-spice powder
½ teaspoon Chinese licorice powder (ground and sieved from dried stems)
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1½ tablespoons thin soy sauce
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons Xiaoxing rice wine, preferably Rose wine
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 to 4 drops of red food coloring
Step1: Mix the ground pork with the marinade. Leave it in the fridge overnight or at least 4 hours.
Step 2: Turn oven on to 250F/ 120C. Oil or line a large baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Put the marinated pork on the baking sheet and spread the meat as thinly as possible to cover the whole sheet – use another baking sheet if there is extra meat. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Step 3: Turn the oven up to 350F/ 175C. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until pieces are sticky and quite dry.
Step 4: Remove from the oven. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the meat into fairly large squares. Allow to cool.
Step 5: Grill pieces in an outdoor grill or place them under the broiler until they are slightly caramelized with slight charring. Wrap in wax paper or foil and freeze until needed.
Recipe from my upcoming cookbook, Edible Memories.