Last Friday, we welcomed in the Year of the Horse, one of the dozen zodiac signs marking each year in the Lunar Calendar. Growing up in Malaysia, this was a three-day celebration filled with an Open House wowing guests with wonderful food and treats, and a constant stream of invitations to restaurant dinners and homes of other people to divulge in their gastronomic offerings. One of the seasonal treats is Long Yoke, a sweet and salty pork jerky, whose grill smoke clouds the air in Chinese-dominated parts of the city. As kids, we would literally attack the packet of these meaty treats since they were not available year round and due to their irresistible flavor. Since I now live in the Washington DC area, it is impossible for me to find them store-made; hence, I am compelled to make it myself at home. I managed to find a couple of online recipes, and with a bit of tweaking and merging of both, this is my version. Believe me, once you have made it, you will find it both quite easy to make and delectable to dig your teeth into.
2 lbs ground pork
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
200 gm sugar
1/8 tsp five-spiced powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp kam cho powder (grounded from dried licorice stems) – in Asian grocery stores
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp thick dark soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine (preferably Rose rice wine)
3-4 drops of red food coloring
1.Season ground pork with the marinade. Leave it in the fridge overnight or at least 4 hours.
2.Turn oven to 250 F/ 120C.
3.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.
4.Bake in oven for 20 mins or until firm to the touch. Remove and set aside.
5.Turn the oven up to 350F/ 175C. Once hot enough, return the tray and for 20-30 mins until pieces are sticky and quite dry.
6.Remove from the oven. Using a scissor or pizza cutter, cut the meat into fairly large pieces. Allow to cool.
7.Grill pieces in an outdoor grill or place them in the broiler until they are slightly caramelized with slight charring. Wrap in foil and freeze until needed.