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A little jerky love

Passport & Plate - Rou Gan

China | Sunday, 1 March 2015 | 5 photos

450g pork mince (10% fat preferable)

50g caster sugar
50g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tbsp Shaoxing
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp kicap manis
1/4 tsp five spice
Pinch white pepper
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp runny honey


How to prepare this recipe
In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
Add the minced pork and then using either a single chopsticks or two chopsticks held together mix the pork through until the marinade is evenly dispersed and the mixture is 'gluey'.
Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 160C
Divide the mixture into approximately 4-6 equal pieces (depending on the size of your baking sheet).
Take each portion and place between two sheets of greaseproof. Using a rolling pin press/ roll the mixture into a thin sheet 1-2mm thick
Repeat for the remaining mix.
Lay the sheets onto flat baking trays (or tray if you only have one and cook in batches) and peel the top layer of greaseproof off. Cook in the oven for approximately 15 minute or until cooked/ set.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Slice into rough square portions around 8cmx8cm (it doesn't need to be exact just decent sized pieces). If you have access to a barbecue finish the sticky slices of meat over coals until caramelised - this will give a deliciously smoky flavour to the Chinese jerky. If not, lay the piece on a rack over a baking tray and finish under the grill - approximately 8 minutes either side but it really depends on how thick your pieces are and how hot your grill is so keep an eye on them and turn once one side is suitably caramelised to repeat on the other side. Set aside to cool and then set up a nice stack to devour with a cold tsing tao beer...yuuuum.


The story behind this recipe
December 2013 I was lucky enough to fly back to China and spend some serious time with that side of my family. I'll never know why but on this particular visit something struck a rather delicious chord and I was completely hooked by everything food. I spent that month being thoroughly piggy, eating with almost insatiable hunger, rediscovering the flavours of my childhood - I was in heaven!

My recipe is one of my favourite snacks from China, a gift from the gods of jerky. Fleshy, succulent, smoky and sticky caramel sweet ; its everything you could want in your mouth and more!

During my trip, I had convinced my dad to take me to one of the oldest knife shops in Shanghai, my heart set on a shiny new cleaver. I skipped up the busy bustling street of Nanjing Road East, a shopping destination for tourists, excited for some new metal. Like a fly drawn to the light, I suddenly found myself, face pressed up against a window, watching a small Chinese lady skillfully flip juicy pieces of meat over flaming coals as fat flirtatiously dripped off their caramel edges. Her hands worked quickly, never really watching what she was doing and like a sixth sense her tongs would flick the pieces of meat away from the flame, where they would teasingly gather, glistening, a shining beacon of sticky meat delight. Holy moly, my jaw dropped, I drooled and stood for a few minutes in trance at the vast array of BBQ yum laid out before me. I did the only sane thing to do and left with over a kilo of jerky heaven.

After I returned to the UK, with a rather heavy heart for all the food I was leaving behind, I set about learning and testing all my favourite eats. I wanted to connect with my history and learn how to recreate all that deliciousness in my own kitchen - sadly my father is not a cooking man so I would have teach myself. Rou Gan was number one on the list, I researched and played and came up with something that takes me back to that little shop on Nanjing Road East.

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