Yes, you read that right! All of us are very familiar with our favourite Bak Kwa that is a tradition especially during Chinese New Year, but do you know that there is actually such a thing called the ”Halal BBQ Meat”? Bet’cha never heard! When The Luna Space team went around asking our friends and families if they know that Malays/Muslims also have their own version of ‘Bak Kwa’, the singular response we received is, “HUH? GOT MEH?”. YES, GOT! AND REMEMBER, YOU READ IT HERE FIRST. 😜
With such a discerning yet understated food culture that we have amongst us, we simply had to knock on the doors (not for New Year visiting hor) of Lim Chee Guan – one of Singapore’s oldest brand for Bak Kwa, and Dendeng House – Singapore’s first manufacturer of Dendeng (Yup, Dendeng is the name for “Halal BBQ Meat”) to understand more about this addictive, flavorful square piece of barbeque meat we enjoy.
Are there specified parts of pork that make up a slice of your signature sliced Bak Kwa, or is it a mix of minced ground pork?
Lim Chee Guan: Our meat are premium grade and only sliced meat are used for all of our Bak Kwa. Only the Gold Coin Bak Kwa is made of minced meat.
What are some of the key ingredients that give your Bak Kwa its flavours?
Lim Chee Guan: Mainly salt, sugar, fish sauce.
What is/are the most important step(s) in the process of Bak Kwa making that cannot be missed?
Lim Chee Guan: Every process is important to us as the success of the end product is an accumulative of each process. Should any steps in the process be jeopardized, the end product will not be perfect.
From the start of production till the Bak Kwas are ready to be sold to customers, how long on average is the whole process?
Lim Chee Guan: The process will take an average of up to 72 hours from processing a raw piece of meat all the way to serving them over the counter.
How long should/can one keep the Bak Kwa for its optimum quality of texture and taste?
Lim Chee Guan: We would normally advise customer to consume our Bak Kwa within the first 10 days of purchase, after which they may put inside the fridge or freezer for up to around 1 month and light toast it before consuming it.
Dendeng, on the other hand, is best eaten when it is freshly grilled – but let’s find out more from Dendeng Tan, an endearing name that the founder of Dendeng House calls himself 😊
How long can one keep Dendeng for its optimum quality of texture and taste?
Dendeng Tan: For the Lembu (Beef) Dendeng, you have to eat it on the spot after it is grilled. Like a piece of beef steak, the texture will become stale and hard if you leave it out for too long. For the Ayam (Chicken) Dendeng, you can actually keep them in an airtight container for about 10 days even after grilling.
What type of meat do you use?
Dendeng Tan: We have different types of chicken and beef meat – some are grounded/minced, some are sliced.
What are some of the key ingredients that give your Dendeng its flavours?
Dendeng Tan: The common ingredients are mainly salt and sugar, but we have different flavours of Dendeng. For example, there are honey and malt sugar in the Honey Chicken Dendeng. For the Black Pepper Beef Dendeng, we use black pepper, garlic, onion, ginger etc. Other than these two flavours, we also produce Chilli Chicken, Chilli Beef, Original Beef and Satay Chicken flavour!
How is the texture of Dendeng different from Bak Kwa?
Dendeng Tan: The most obvious difference is that Bak Kwa is more towards a “tougher” texture, while Dendeng is made to be like a piece of pan-fry meat so it is softer and juicier.
How long is your whole production process of Dendeng?
Dendeng Tan: The process is long – about a few days for every batch – as we have to process the meat and allow time for the meat to be thoroughly seasoned to absorb the fullest flavours.
How did the idea of Dendeng first come about?
Dendeng Tan: In the past, my malay/muslim friends used to ask me what Bak Kwa is whenever they see Chinese friends buying/eating during Chinese New Year. We then realized that we could try to produce something similar for the Muslims, hence why Dendeng is called the “Halal BBQ Meat”.
Lim Chee Guan is a family-run business operating since 1938. Now helming 4 outlets across the island, Lim Chee Guan continues to flourish and attract long queues from both the young and old especially during the Chinese New Year period.
(Lim Chee Guan’s first shopfront outlet in New Bridge Road still shining bright and standing strong since 1956)
Dendeng House is a Chinese-owned business who started since 1991. The brand is usually seen in Ramadan bazaars like the one pictured below in Geylang Serai.
(Image taken from SGMAGAZINE)