Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hawker centre

A hawker centre or ''food centre'' is the name given to open-air complexes in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore housing many stalls that sell a variety of food. They are typically found near public housing estates or transport hubs .

Hawker centres sprung up in areas following the rapid in the 1950s and 1960s. In many cases, they were built partly to address the problem of unhygienic food preparation by unlicensed street hawkers. More recently, they have become less ubiquitous due to growing affluence in the urban populations of Malaysia and Singapore. Particularly in Singapore, they are increasingly being replaced by food courts, which are indoor, versions of hawker centres located in shopping malls and other commercial venues.

In the 1950s and 1960s, hawker centres were considered to be a venue for the less affluent. They had a reputation for food, partly due to the frequent appearance of stray domestic pets and s. Many hawker centres were poorly managed by their operators, often lacking and proper facilities for cleaning. More recently, hygiene standards have improved, with pressure from the local authorities. This includes the implementation of licensing requirements, where a sufficient standard of hygiene is required for the stall to operate, and rewarding exceptionally good hygiene. Upgrading or reconstruction of hawker centres was initiated in the late 1990s in Singapore. At the same time, hawker centres were renamed food centres.

The hawker centres in Singapore are owned by three government bodies, namely the National Environment Agency under the parent Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources , Housing and Development Board and JTC Corporation. All the centres, in turn, are managed by NEA.

In Hong Kong, hawker centres are located in market complexes of residential districts, stalls from hawker centres are converted from Dai Pai Dong by strict regulations and management, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department manages hawker centres in Hong Kong.

Notable hawker centres

The following lists some of the more notable hawker centre in Singapore:


*Adam Road Food Centre
*Alexandra Road Hawker Centre
*Amoy Street Food Centre
*Bedok Central
*Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre
*Changi Village Food Centre
*Chinatown Complex
*Chomp Chomp Food Centre
*East Coast Park Food Centre
*East Coast Seafood Centre
*Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre
*Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre
*Glutton's Square
*Golden Mile Food Centre
*Golden Shoe Hawker Centre
*Hong Lim Complex
*Lau Pa Sat
*Maxwell Food Centre
*Newton Food Centre
*Old Airport Cooked Food Centre
*People's Park Food Centre
*Satay Club
*Seah Im Food Centre
*Shunfu Mart
*Tanjong Pagar Plaza
*Tekka Centre
*Tiong Bahru Food Centre
*Whampoa Food Centre

Haw flakes

Haw flakes are sweets made from the fruit of the . The dark pink candy is packaged using twenty-two one millimeter-thick candy discs and sold in packs of ten. They are also frequently given away after a consultation with a .


Haw flakes are manufactured in China and are available in many parts of Asia. In Hong Kong they have been available since the 1970s. There has been virtually no change in the recipe or taste from the original version. By far the largest seller of haw flakes is the Shandong Foodstuffs Import & Export Corporation of Qingdao, Shandong, . Exported packages are manufactured by the Qingzhou Jiahe Food Corporation company . The snack is available in some Chinatowns.


Gourmet haw flakes are also available at specialty Chinese markets. Gourmet haw flakes tend to be larger than the Shandong haw flakes


Haw flakes have been seized on several occasions by the United States Food and Drug Administration for containing Ponceau 4R , an unapproved ing.

Fish slice

Fish slice or Fish fillet is a commonly cooked food in southern China and overseas Chinese communities. As the name suggests, the fillet is made of fish that has been finely pulverized. It is made of the same Surimi used to make fishball.


When production is finished, the fish usually comes in a large frozen rectangular fillet. Prior to cooking, the large rectangular fish mold must be and cut into smaller slices.

Hong Kong

Fish slices are often used in Chinese cuisine, especially in noodle dishes. It is commonly found in dai pai dong, perhaps the most popular of fish slices is mixing fishball or wonton noodles.

Another usage in home cooking is to combine it with soft vegetables like cabbage, bean sprouts. Meats like pork are also sometimes used for plate-dishes.

Dried shredded squid

Dried shredded squid is a dried, seasoned snack commonly found in coastal countries, as well as Hawai'i. It is also referred to as ''"Shredded Squid"'', ''"Dried Seasoned Squid"'', ''"Prepared Rolled Squid"'' or ''"Sun Dried Squid"''. It should not be confused with regular dried squid found in the Philippines. The squid is also interchangeable with cuttlefish, so that the name is ''"Dried Shredded Cuttlefish"''.

History and origins

Historically, squid is common in coastal regions of and Southeast Asia. The food has always been referred to by the native language name. Only after the packaged form began shipping to English speaking regions, did the translated English-language name "dried shredded squid" get imprinted on packages. The snack was already popularized, sold and consumed regularly in Hong Kong during the 1970s. Shredded squid began being sold in Macau as an addition to their almond biscuit. Hong Kong has also imported several brands from Japan and Taiwan, which are better adapted for mass production of this item. In Japan, it is called ''surume'' and popularly served as an ''otsumami'', a snack consumed while drinking alcohol. In Korean cuisine, dried shredded squid is eaten as '''' , and as ''banchan'' such as ''ojingeochae bokkeum'' , which is made by stir-frying shredded dried squid seasoned with a mixture of gochujang , garlics, and ''mulyeot'' .


Northern Pacific Squid is separated into different parts and skinned, cooked at 65-80C for 3-5 minutes, cooled, grated and seasoned at a temperature below 20C for more than 4 hours. Sugar, salt, sorbitol, sweetener, and organic acid is added. They are then dried at 40-45C for 12-20 hours until it reaches a moisture level of 40%. It is then aged in a cold room for 2 weeks or longer, then dried at a higher temperature of 110-120C for 3-5 minutes If consumed in large quantities, it can be detrimental to health. The main attraction is that the snack is loaded with MSG, salt and other flavoring. The food is famous for making consumers thirsty.

Deuk Deuk Tong

Deuk Deuk Tong or commonly referred to as Ding Ding Tong is a type of traditional candy in Hong Kong. It is a hard maltose candy with sesame and ginger flavours. The sweet is made by first melting maltose, then adding to it various ingredients and continuously stirring the mixture. Before the mixture solidifies, it is put on a metal stick and pulled into a line shape, then coiled into the shape of a plate.

In Cantonese, ''deuk'' means chiselling, breaking things into pieces. When sold the candy, it was necessary for them to break apart its original shape with a pair flat chisels, namely "deuk". Chiselling makes noise and attracts children to buy. ''Deuk Deuk Tong'' was thus named . Today, in order to cater to young people's tastes, different flavours of ''Deuk Deuk Tong'' are also made, including coconut, chocolate, mango, banana, and strawberry flavours.

Dai pai dong

Dai pai dong is a type of open-air food stall once very popular in Hong Kong. The government registration name in Hong Kong is "cooked-food stalls".


Dai pai dong is characterised by its green-painted steel kitchen, untidy atmosphere, the lack of air conditioning, as well as a variety of low priced great-wok hei dishes. Regarded by some as part of the collective memory of Hong Kong people , genuine ''dai pai dongs'' are scarce today, numbering only 28, situated in , Sham Shui Po , Wan Chai , Tai Hang , and Tai O .

Although the term ''dai pai dong'' is often used generically to refer to any food stall operating on the roadside with foldable tables, chairs and no air-conditioning . Legally speaking the term can only refer to those 28 stalls which possess the "big licenses".


Unlicensed food stalls, which provided cheap everyday food such as , rice and noodles to the general public of humble income, appeared in as early as the late 19th century in Hong Kong. The stalls could be found not only in Central, but also in Wanchai and the peripheries of Happy Valley Racecourse around Wong Nai Chung Road. In fact, the great fire at the racecourse in 1918 was caused by food stalls set beside the podium. There were also stalls assembled by piers, which formed the so-called ''Waisik Matau'' , to serve ferry passengers.

After World War II came to an end in 1945, the colonial Hong Kong government issued ''ad hoc'' licenses to families of deceased and injured civil servants, allowing them to operate food stalls in public and thereby earn a living. This kind of license was considerably larger than the ones normally issued, as a photograph of the licensee was required to appear on them. The license, therefore, was jocularly called "''dai pai''" by the locals. From then on, the "big license stalls" began to flourish on every busy street and lane in Hong Kong.

However, ''dai pai dongs'' soon became the cause of traffic congestion and hygiene problems, and some licensees even began to let out their stalls on the black market. In response, the government stopped issuing new "big licenses" in 1956, and limited their transfer. The licenses could no longer be inherited, and could only be passed on to spouses upon the licensee's death. If the licensee did not have a spouse, the license would simply expire.

Since 1975, many ''dai pai dongs'' have been moved into temporary markets, like the ones on Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, or into cooked food centres, usually located in municipal services complexes managed by the Urban Council, for easier control. In order to improve worsening public hygiene, the government began to buy back "big licences" from the licence-holders in 1983. Since most of the licensees were aged, and the licenses are only legally transferable to their spouses, many of the licensees were willing to return their licenses for compensation. Since then, the number of traditional ''dai pai dongs'' has declined rapidly.

Today, most ''dai pai dongs'' survive by operating in cooked food centres, while the more successful ones have reinvented themselves as air-conditioned restaurants .

It was reported that revenues of ''dai pai dongs'' increased considerably in 2003 when Hong Kong was plagued by SARS; as people regarded air-conditioned places as hotbeds of the virus and patronised open-air and sun-lit stalls instead.

Features of ''dai pai dongs''

*One can order tailor-made dishes.
*It is customary to have to share tables with complete strangers when there is a shortage of seating.
*Unlike ''cha chaan tengs'', most ''dai pai dongs'' do not provide set meals.
*"Cross-stall ordering" is possible: for instance, when one is sitting and eating in a stall selling noodles, he or she can order a cup of milk tea from another stall, which may be several stalls away.
*The stalls can be roughly divided into those operating in daytime and those doing business at night. The ''dai pai dongs'' which operate at night usually sell seafood and other more costly dishes: one dish usually costs from HKD$ 40-70. The day-time ''dai pai dongs'', on the contrary, provide cheap food including:
** and youtiao ;
**, toasts, sandwiches and instant noodles with ham, , or sausage;
**rice or noodles with siu mei ;
**fried rice and ''dip tau fan'' ;
**Chiuchow-style noodles .


In May 2005, the existence of ''dai pai dong'' in Hong Kong caught considerable public attention, as Man Yuen Noodles, a ''dai pai dong'' selling noodles in Central, faced imminent closure due to the death of the licensee. The news came after the closure of a bakery famous for its egg tarts, also located in Central and forced to close because of the rise of rent. The bakery reopened in October 2005.

Despite calls for its preservation by many locals, including some politicians, the stall was closed on July 30, 2005. The Hong Kong government was criticised for not trying its best to preserve ''dai pai dongs'' as part of the Hong Kong culture. The news of the closure coincided with the government's proposal of the development of West Kowloon Cultural District. The stall has unexpectedly reopened at a nearby shop on December 1, 2005.

Chinese sausage

Chinese sausage is a generic term referring to the many different types of sausages originating from China.


There is a choice of fatty or skimmed sausages. There are different kinds ranging in those made using fresh pork to those made using pig livers, duck livers and even turkey livers. Usually a livery sausage will be darker in colour than one made without liver. Recently, there have even been countries producing chicken Chinese sausages. Traditionally they are classified into two main types. It is sometimes rolled and steamed in dim sum.

* La Chang is a dried, hard sausage usually made from pork and a high content of fat. It is normally smoked, sweetened, and seasoned.
* Xiang Chang is a fresh and plump sausage consisting of coarsely chopped pieces of pork and pork fat. The sausage is rather sweet in taste.
* Ren Chang is made using duck liver. Ren Chang is not sweet in taste.


Southern Chinese

Chinese sausage is used as an ingredient in quite a number of dishes in China, including Hong Kong and the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi and Hunan, as well as countries in Southeast Asia. Two common examples of such dishes within Chinese cuisine include fried rice and ''lo mai gai''.

Many other examples include ''popiah'' and ''char kway teow'' in Fujian, Malaysia and Singapore. The traditional unpackaged forms are usually found in street market or wet markets.


Taiwan also produces a similar form of sausage, however they are rarely dried in the manner of Cantonese sausages. As well, the fat and meat may be emulsified and they contain a larger amount of sugar and is thus sweeter in taste. These sausages are usually produced by local butchers and sold at the markets or made directly at home. This variant of Chinese Sausage is known as ''xiangchang'' in Mandarin Chinese, literally meaning fragrant sausage. Although much loved by Taiwanese everywhere, this type of sausage is not commonly available outside the region.


Singapore has been coming up with many innovative Chinese sausages that are healthy. Examples that are created in Singapore are Chinese sausages with low fat, low sodium content and even a high fibre version.


In , the sausage is called either "Kyet-ou-gyaung" or "Wet-ou-gyaung" . The sausages made in Myanmar are more meaty and compact compared to the ones in Singapore or China. They are usually used in fried rice and along with fried vegetables, mostly cabbage.


In , the Chinese sausage is called "Koon Chiang" or "????????".
There is also Chinese sausage made with Snake-headed Fish meat.


In , the Chinese sausage is called "l?p x??ng" or "l?p x??ng".


It is available in Asian supermarkets overseas mostly in the vacuum-packaged form, although some Chinese groceries sell the unpackaged varieties as well. These tend to be made locally, for example much of the Chinese sausage sold in Canada is produced by a number of manufacturers based in Vancouver and Toronto.

Cha chaan teng

A cha chaan teng is a type of tea restaurant commonly found in Hong Kong, known for its eclectic and affordable menus which include many dishes from Hong Kong cuisine and Hong Kong-style Western cuisine. This type of restaurant is also popular in Macau. They can also be found in the Chinatown districts of many Western countries.

Name and description

''Cha chaan teng'' establishments provide tea called "clear tea" , to customers as soon as they are seated. Some patrons use the hot tea to wash their utensils. The name, literally "tea restaurant", serves to distinguish itself from Western restaurants that provide water to customers instead of tea. The "tea" in the name refers to the inexpensive black tea, not the traditional Chinese tea served in traditional dim sum restaurants and teahouses . Moreover, some ''cha chaan tengs'' prefer the use of the word "café" in their names.

The "tea" may also refer to those tea drinks, such as the Hong Kong-styled milk tea and cold lemon tea, which are very popular in ''cha chaan tengs''. The older generations in Hong Kong use ''yum sai cha'' , when dining in these restaurants in contrast with ''yum cha''.

Some restaurants operate in such as Sun Chiu Kee and Tsui Wah .


''Cha chaan teng'' serves a wide range of food, from steak to wonton noodles to curry to . Both fast food and dishes are available. A big ''cha chaan teng'' often consists of three cooking places: a "water bar" which makes drinks, toast/sandwiches and instant noodles, a "noodle stall" which prepares noodles , and a kitchen for producing rice plates and other more expensive dishes. The invention of drinks like '''' , Iced coffee with Lemon and Coca-Cola with Lemon are often credited culturally to this style of restaurant.

A typical menu includes:
* Noodles
** Wonton noodles
** Noodles with fishball and beefball
** Instant noodles with canned or preserved foodstuff, e.g. ham, pork luncheon meat, and d vegetables.
** Vermicelli
** Udon
* Pasta
** Macaroni
** Spaghetti

* Rice plates , as the varieties offered by different ''cha chaan teng'' are more or less the same.)
** Rice with fried tofu and BBQ pork tenderloin
** Rice with assorted meats , usually ham, sausage, -like beef
** Rice with ham and chicken , usually served with tomato sauce.
** Rice with creamed corn and deep-fried filet of
* Bread and cake
** "Freshly baked"
*** Egg tart, a tasty baked egg custard.
*** Pineapple bun or ''bor law yau'' , a steaming hot sweet bun stuffed with a slice of butter.
*** Bread with filling, topped with shredded coconut
*** French toast - The local version is typically stuffed with peanut butter and deep-fried until golden.
*** Butter and jam on toast
*** Sandwiches
**** With preserved foodstuffs
**** With fresh meat and vegetables e.g. Sandwich with tomato slices and beef
* Drinks
** Hong Kong-style milk tea or lemon tea
** Coffee
*** Straight
*** With milk
*** With lemon slices
** "Chinese-style Lemonade"
** With lemon
** Horlicks
** Ovaltine

Note 1: Common sauces available: tomato sauce , black pepper sauce , cream sauce , curry sauce . However, the naming of sauce in a ''cha chaan teng'' can sometimes be misleading. Do not expect tomato sauce to be similar to that in tomato pasta. The predominating ingredient in the sauces is, not uncommonly, just starch.

Note 2: "Pineapple bun" does not contain pineapple or any of its derivatives. It acquires the name from the crispy topping, an outcome of baked syrup mingled with . It is often served with a slice of butter. A "pineapple bun" served in this way is called ''Boh law yau'' . ''Boh law yau'' often goes with drinks as a set meal and is popular among the male working class.

Note 3: Most ''cha chaan teng''s charge an extra $1 or $2 for iced drinks, except soft drinks.

Note 4: Very rarely do any ''cha chaan teng'' offer espresso and its derivatives . Instead, they boil coffee in stainless steel kettles. The taste can be intense when drunk straight. One might consider it espresso-like but it does not offer much of an aftertaste. In addition, is not seen.

Note 5: Iced coffee is sweetened with syrup unless specified to the waiter.

Note 6: Most ''Cha chaan teng''s use canned evaporated milk, but the customer can require condensed milk be used. Fresh milk is rarely used.

Note 7: When ordering a set, it usually accompanies a choice of tea or coffee on the menu. The actual choices offered are tea, coffee, Horlicks, Ovaltine, and Milo.

Table manners

Customers usually select their seats freely in a ''cha chaan teng'', but in a crowded restaurant they have to share a table with strangers. During peak hours, waiters in a ''cha chaan teng'' will seat their customers, "packing" as many customers into the restaurant as possible. This is called ''dap toi'' in Chinese. For example, they will seat two groups of three customers at a six-seat table, to avoid having a pair of customers sitting with a group of three people, leaving one seat vacant. Sometimes already-seated customers have to move to accommodate the business.

In most ''cha chaan tengs'', customers call out their orders to a waiter, who will jot down the prices of the ordered food on a piece of card/paper provided to every group of customers. After the meal, customers present the card/paper at the cash register to pay the bill.

Set meals

A feature of ''cha chaan tengs'' are the set meals. There are various sets throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The lunch and dinner sets usually include a soup and a drink. Generally there is an additional 2 charge for cold drinks. Sometimes an additional HK$1 is charged for toasted bread.

Other sets include:

* "Nutritious set" - It comes with milk and other nutritional food
* "Constant set" - Provided all day long, hence the name
* "Fast set" - Immediately served
* "Special set" - Chef's recommendation


Other kinds of local restaurant related to ''cha chaan teng'' in Hong Kong include ''chaan sut'' , ''bing sut'' , and ''bing teng'' , which a provide lighter and a limited selection of food than ''cha chaan teng''.

In the old days, these eateries only sold different types of "ice", sandwiches and pasta but ''no'' rice plates. However, some of the restaurants bearing these titles today ignore the tradition, and provide all kinds of rice plates and even wonton noodles. Original ''chaan suts'', ''bing suts'' and ''bing tengs'', which can be regarded as the prototype of ''cha chaan tengs'', are now scarce in Hong Kong.

In media

* The similarities between the different set meals were made fun of by ''My life as McDull'', a McDull movie.
*An important part of Hong Kong culture, ''cha chaan teng'' is featured in many Hong Kong movies and TV dramas, including the popular sitcom ''Virtues of Harmony''. The TVB-made soap opera tells the story of a family who runs a ''cha chaan teng'', usually boasting the egg tart and "silk-stocking milk tea" produced by them. Stephen Chow also played a ''cha chaan teng'' waiter in the 1998-comedy ''Lucky Guy'' .
*Some beverage producers use the words ''cha chaan teng'' to name their products, such as "cha chaan teng milk tea" and "cha chaan teng lemon tea".
*On 19 December 2007, lawmaker Choy So Yuk proposed during a session that Hong Kong's cha chaan teng be recognised and put up to Unesco as an "intangible cultural heritage of humanity". The proposal came about after a recent Hong Kong poll found that seven out of ten people believe the cafes deserve a UNESCO cultural listing.


Caffeine culture in Hong Kong

Caffeine culture in Hong Kong is different from our general conception of coffee or tea as it had taken in a much different form in Hong Kong since the colonial era began in the early 18th century.

Inherited and modified based on traditional English tea, the different forms of 'teas' that Hong Kong people invented have gradually contributed to the evolution of caffeine culture that does not fit into the West's schema of tea or coffee at all.

For example '' is a tea which is boiled in leaves more than 7 times, leaving an intense flavor, not to mention its intense level of caffeine. Milk tea tastes like the Indian Chai tea but is more milk-based and is very strong.

A more peculiar form of caffeine drink in Hong Kong is ''. Yuan Yang is a drink that mixes milk tea with coffee. It is welcomed by many locals and is an especially popular drink during workers' teabreaks, usually around 3:15 PM. Yuan Yang is usually served with an egg tart or other sweet buns.

Many tea houses in Hong Kong serve 'milk tea' and 'Yuen Yeung' as well as other peculiar drinks, like iced lemon coffee and hot lemon coke .

Buddha's delight

Buddha's delight, often as Luóhàn zhāi, lo han jai, or lo hon jai, is a dish well known in Chinese cuisine. It is sometimes also called Luóhàn cài . The dish is traditionally enjoyed by monks who are vegetarians, but it has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available as a vegetarian option in Chinese restaurants.

The dish consists of various vegetables and other vegetarian ingredients , which are cooked in soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific ingredients used vary greatly both inside and outside Asia.


In the name luóhàn zhāi, ''luóhàn'' – short for ''? luóhàn'' – is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit ''arhat'', meaning an enlightened, ascetic individual or the himself. ''Zhāi'' means "vegetarian food" or "vegetarian diet."

The dish is usually made with at least 10 ingredients, although more elaborate versions may comprise 18 or even 35 ingredients. If 18 ingredients are used, the dish is called Luóhàn quánzhāi .

In China, Hong Kong and Toronto, when served exclusively using only the most flavor-packed vegetarian ingredients, such as red sour tofu or sweet bean curds, it is known as ''tián suān zhāi'' .


As suggested by its name, it is a dish traditionally enjoyed by monks who are vegetarians, but it has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available in Chinese restaurants . It is traditionally served in Chinese households on the first day of the Chinese New Year, stemming from the old Buddhist practice that one should maintain a vegetarian diet in the first five days of the new year, as a form of . Some of the rarer ingredients, such as fat choy and , are generally only eaten at this time of year.


The following is a list of ingredients often used in Buddha's delight, each of which, according to Chinese tradition, is ascribed a particular auspicious significance. As the dish varies from chef to chef and family to family, not every ingredient is always used in every version of the dish.

Main ingredients

Commonly used main ingredients

#Bamboo shoots
#Cellophane noodles
#Fat choy
# nuts
#Lotus seeds
#Snow peas
#Fried tofu
#Wood ear

Less commonly used main ingredients

#Other types of fungus, including cloud ear fungus , , , snow fungus , and
#Red jujubes
#Other types of mushrooms, including s , oyster mushrooms , and ''Tricholoma'' mushrooms
#Dried oysters
#Quail s


*Monosodium glutamate
*Oyster sauce
*Pickled tofu
*Soy sauce

Biscuit roll

Biscuit roll, crispy biscuit roll, crisp biscuit roll or cookie roll is a type of biscuit snack commonly found in many parts of Asia. It is crunchy and can be easily broken into pieces.


The Chinese name of "蛋卷" is identical to that of the Chinese name for egg roll, despite both food items are very different.


In Hong Kong biscuit rolls can be found to be made of wheat flour, butter, egg, sugar, vanilla flavor. New territories is one of the place that manufacturers biscuit rolls.



Bakkwa, or rougan is a salty-sweet dried meat product similar to , made in the form of flat thin sheets. It is normally made from pork. Bakkwa is believed to have originated from a meat preservation and preparation technique used in ancient China that is still practiced in places with influence.

In Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines ''bakkwa'' or ''ba gua'' is the most widely used name. Cantonese speakers use the term ''yuhk gōn''', Anglicised version ''long yok'', while in China and Taiwan the product is more commonly known as ''rougan''. Commercially available versions are sometimes labeled as "barbecued pork," "dried pork," or "pork jerky." Rougan is particularly popular as a snack in Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines. In Beidou, Taiwan, it is regarded as one of the three pork delicacies.

Cultural significance

In Malaysia and Singapore, bakkwa has become a highly popular gift offered to visitors and acquaintances, as well as amongst corporate employees (some during the Chinese New Year. In Muslim-majority countries like Malaysia, ''halal'' chicken varieties of the snack may be used as a gift substitute. It may also be served in functions such as Chinese wedding banquets and religious ceremony dinners. While demand is particular high during the festive seasons, it is also served throughout the year in various outlets as takeaway snacks or to be served together with main courses at home. The meat is commonly sold in red-coloured bags or packaging, an auspicious colour in Chinese culture.


Traditionally, bakkwa was made using leftover meats from festivals and banquets. They were preserved with sugar and salt, and then kept for later consumption, and was the preferred method at a time when refrigeration was not available. The meat from these celebrations is trimmed of the fat, sliced, marinated and then . After smoking, the meat is cut into small pieces and stored for later. It is believed that the distinguishing feature behind the preparation was in the marination, and the recipe is often closely guarded.

Contemporarily, however, the meat is often prepared using fresh produce or imported pre-packed and pre-marinated from China, often barbecued in high-temperature ovens locally. Currently, two main variants exist, with more traditional ones involving minced meat shaped into slices , and the newer versions involving slicing off solid blocks of meat . The latter, although more expensive, became increasingly popular due to its tougher texture and healthier lower fat content. The meat is most commonly served plain and in square-shaped slices, though spicy versions are also popular. It may be cut into bite-sized circles to resemble coins, thus referred to as "''Golden Coins''" for auspicious reasons during the festive seasons. More adventurous chains have attempted to introduce more novel ways of selling the meat.

Popular culture

A bubble gum-like packaging for bakkwa was virtually invented in the Singaporean movie ''I Not Stupid''.

Notable ''bakkwa'' shops, brands and chains

North America

*Soo Singapore Jerky


*Chun Me Food Trading
*Tan Heong Kee
*Wing Heong
*Kiew Brothers
*Hock Seng Guan


*Bee Cheng Hiang
*Fragrance Foodstuff
*Lim Chee Guan
*Tan Chee Yuan
*New Peng Hiang
*Golden Glory Food Industries


*Jin Xiang Yuan
*Chuan Xiang
*Hsin Tung Yang


* Bee Tin

Yuanyang (drink)

Yuanyang, sometimes also called Ying Yong, is a popular beverage in Hong Kong, made of a mixture of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea. It was originally served at ''dai pai dongs'' and ''cha chaan tengs'' , but is now available in various types of restaurants. It can be served hot or cold. The name ''yuanyang'', which refers to mandarin ducks, is a symbol of conjugal love in Chinese culture, as the birds usually appear in pairs and the male and female look very different. This same connotation of "pair" of two unlike items is used to name this drink and singer Peter André claimed to have invented CoffTea in an interview in 2004. In an interview with the New York Observer in October 2006, Sandra Blund recommended combining Savarin with chamomile tea in a ratio of 2 to 1, or combining organic Bolivian coffee and White Rose tea in equal parts. However, Yuanyang has predated these claims by at least fifty years.

The God of Cookery

The God of Cookery is a comedy film directed by acclaimed Hong Kong comedian, actor and , Stephen Chow, best known in the for his films ''Shaolin Soccer'' and ''Kung Fu Hustle''.


''The God of Cookery'' is the story of celebrity chef Stephen Chow , who knows very little about cooking and is willing to hawk any product for a price. The arrogant and cocky Chow is known as the "God of Cookery" and runs a successful business empire, as well as appearing as a judge for rigged culinary competitions.

When Bull Tong , who poses as a fan and reveals to the world that Chow is a fraud, Chow's business empire is taken away; in fact, Bull was conspiring with Chow's business partner to overthrow him. Ruined, Chow lives on the streets in an area known as , where two rival street vendors, Goosehead and Turkey , conduct gang warfare to see which vendor could sell the two best-selling dishes: beef balls and . Chow manages to unite the two rival vendors by combining the two dishes into a new dish, "Pissing Beef Balls", which the three of them could sell together. It becomes a huge success, and the vendors convince Chow to enroll in a culinary school in order to reclaim the title he lost, but not before he discovers that Turkey idolized Chow as the "God of Cookery", and received her scarred appearance due to her devotion.

The success of the "Pissing Beef Balls" alarms Bull, the new "God of Cookery", who arranges for Chow to be assassinated on the way to culinary school. Turkey, however, takes the bullet instead, and Chow, presumed dead, disappears.

One month later, Bull enters the "God of Cookery" competition as the heavy favorite to retain the title. Chow arrives at the competition at the last minute, and reveals to Tong what had happened: Chow escaped the assassin's second bullet, and found his way to a , where head monk ''Wet Dream'' nursed him back to health. However, Wet Dream would not allow Chow to leave the temple until he was well-versed in the ways of the Shaolin arts, a point made moot when it is revealed the culinary school he was going to attend was, in fact, the temple's kitchen —- the ''same'' kitchen Bull had trained for 10 years, but subsquently dropped out. While training, Chow continually mourned for Turkey, and was overcome with grief and remorse over his careless treatment of her. The depth of his feeling, which even caused his hair to grow white, convinced Wet Dream to allow him his departure from the monastery.

The competition between Chow and Tong begins in earnest, with the two attempting to make identical dishes. Each chef tries to sabotage the other's dish in a comedic wuxia fashion by attacking the other using their ingredients and kitchen implements, but Tong prevails when Chow's ex-business partner makes Chow's container explode. With few materials and little time remaining, Chow prepares the "Sorrowful Rice", a simple dish of with an egg and onions, the same dish Turkey first gave to him while he was living on the streets. Although "Sorrowful Rice" is the better dish, Tong had already blackmailed the judge into rigging the contest. Through , Tong is apparently killed and Chow's former business partner is reverted back into his true form of a bulldog. It is also revealed in a former life, Chow was an assistant to the Kitchen God in the Imperial courts of Heaven, before being sent to Earth as punishment for revealing culinary secrets to mankind.

After the competition, Chow celebrates Christmas with his vendor friends in Temple Street, where Goosehead reveals that Turkey survived the assassination. She caught the bullet meant for Chow with her gold-plated teeth and a dentist reconstructed her dental work and even threw in a free plastic surgery on her face, making her pretty again.

Box office

In its Hong Kong theatrical run, the film grossed HK $15,887,030.


* Stephen Chow as Stephen Chow
* Karen Mok as Turkey
* Vincent Kuk as Bull Tong
* Christy Chung as the girl in the dream sequence
* Nancy Sit as herself
* Lee Kin-yan as the nose-picking transvestite
* Ng Man Tat as old man

The Banquet (1991 film)

The Banquet , also known as ''Party of a Wealthy Family'', is a comedy film. It was quickly filmed for a Hong Kong flood relief charity, after the Yangtze River flooded in July of that year, killing over 1,700 people and displacing many more in the eastern and southern regions of mainland China.

A large ensemble of actors and crew worked on the film, many in supporting roles and cameos. The principal star is Eric Tsang.


Developer Tsang Siu-Chi and his agent have bought two of a group of four properties. Rival developer, Boss Hung has secured the other two properties. Both aim to buy all four so they can knock them down and build hotels.

The agent learns that billionaire Kuwaiti Prince Allabarba is due to arrive in Hong Kong and advises Tsang that they could dupe him in order to gain a billion dollar contract. The prince's father has recently died and the prince bitterly regrets that he wasn't a good son.

The agent tells Tsang that he should make a show of the positive relationship he has with his father, to impress the prince. Unfortunately, Tsang has not seen his father for 10 years. Along with his wife and his sycophantic assistant , Tsang heads off to bring his father back. When they meet up, Tsang pretends to have cancer to convince his father to come home, along with his sister and her husband .

Tsang throws a banquet to impress the prince, pretending that it is also a birthday party for his father. However, it has all been a ploy by the agent, who has secretly been working for Boss Hung.


Almost 100 well-known Hong Kong actors appeared in the film, many of them in cameo roles.
The core cast consists of:
* Eric Tsang - Tsang Siu-Chu
* Sammo Hung - Boss Hung Tai-Po
* Jacky Cheung - Jacky Cheung Ah Yau
* John Shum - Curly, Boss Hung's assistant
* Tony Leung Chiu Wai - Wai, Tsang's assistant
* Rosamund Kwan - Gigi, Tsang's sister
* Tony Leung Ka Fai - Leung, Gigi's husband
* Richard Ng - Father Tsang
* Carol Cheng - Mimi, Tsang's wife
* Joey Wong - Honey, Jacky's wife
* George Lam - Prince Alibaba of Kuwait
* Kwan Hoi Shan - Uncle Chicken Roll
* Lau Siu-Ming - Wong
* Jamie Luk - Vassal
* Pau Hon Lam - Uncle Lotus Seed Bun
* Michelle Reis - Kar-Yan Li
* Lydia Sum - Aunt Bill
* Bill Tung - Uncle Bill
* - Forty
* Gabriel Wong - Vassal

The character of Father Tsang has a number of staff, including a sword expert, Master Lau / Uncle Nine , a servant , two English teachers , a make-up artist Mak and a body language expert / gigolo .

Tsang Siu-Chu has a daydream about the banquet, in which his imagined self is played by Leslie Cheung, with Aaron Kwok as his brother, and the imagined Prince Allabarba is played by Alan Tam. He also fantasises that a stream of attractive actresses including Anita Mui, Sally Yeh, Sylvia Chang, Angie Chiu and Gong Li attend the meal. These are followed by leading Hong Kong actors including Chan Yau, Stephen Chow and Michael Hui . All of these actors play themselves in the dream sequence, and some return in additional roles at the actual banquet.

At the actual banquet, Tsang's staff include cooks Leon Lai and Ng Man Tat, servants Meg Lam and Wong Wan-Si, and waiting staff May Lo Mei-Mei, Sandra Ng, Fennie Yuen, Ti Lung and Kenneth Tsang.

Guests at the banquet include David Chiang, , Ku Feng, Carina Lau, Lee Hoi San, Loletta Lee, Waise Lee, Maggie Cheung, Leung Ka-Yan, , Lawrence Ng, Barry Wong, Johnnie To, Melvin Wong, John Woo, Pauline Yeung, Gloria Yip, Chor Yuen, Tai Chi Squadron, Yuen Cheung Yan, Mimi Zhu and the band members of .

The band playing at the banquet are played by Paul Wong, Wong Ka Kui, Wong Ka Keung and Yip Sai Wing.

Further roles include Teresa Mo and Andy Lau as TV presenters, with Teddy Robin Kwan, Wan Chi Keung and Billy Lau as soccer players. Philip Chan and Anglie Leung play a pair of cops, chasing a thief played by Tommy Wong. Additional cameos include Josephine Koo as a photographer, as a food vendor, as a jogger, and Lowell Lo as a cab driver.

Box office

The film grossed HK $21.92 million in Hong Kong.

Tea egg

Tea egg is a typical savory snack commonly sold by street vendors or in night markets in most Chinese communities throughout the world.


Tea eggs are simply hard-boiled that have been further stewed in a salted tea liquid. Other flavourings such as soy sauce and Chinese five-spice powder are often added as well. The eggs are actually boiled twice. After the first boiling, when the insides are hardened, the shell of each egg is lightly cracked. The eggs are then boiled for much longer duration in the black tea mixture for a second time, which allows the flavour of the tea to penetrate deep into the egg. The dark colour of the tea also stains through the cracks of the eggs creating a pattern on the peeled eggs that resembles the crazing of some ceramic glaze surfaces.

Appearance and Flavor

In the end, when the peel comes off, you should see regions of light and dark brown, with mid-brownish tone along the cracks of the peel. The yolk should have a thin greyish layer with the core being the usual yellow. As for flavor, it really depends on what tea you use and your variation of spices. Five-spice powder adds a savory, slightly salty tone to the white, and the tea should bring out the yolk's flavor.


Hong Kong

The tea used in making tea eggs are usually low in quality but high in dark-brown tannins. Green tea is considered too bitter for the use of making tea eggs. In Hong Kong Pu-erh tea is most commonly used, but it can be substituted with black tea.


In Northeast China tea eggs are often privately made and sold. One might also see street vendors cooking and selling steaming-hot tea eggs. In Shanghai, tea eggs are sold by both convenience stores and private street vendors, where the tea eggs are often cooked together with dried tofu.


In Taiwan, tea eggs are a fixture of convenience stores. Through 7-Eleven chains alone, an average of 40 million tea eggs are sold per year.

Table sharing

Table sharing refers to sharing a table in a restaurant by customers or groups of customers who may not know each other.

Table sharing in Chinese culture

Table sharing is a practice that is common in old-style ''yum cha'' Chinese restaurants, ''dai pai dongs'' and ''cha chaan tengs'' in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and parts of China. By practicing table sharing, two groups of customers who may not know each other sit together around a table in the restaurant, and are able to get a table faster than waiting for the first group to finish.

Today, tables are also often shared at Western-style food courts, as these are very popular and fill up quickly.

Table sharing in other cultures

Table sharing is also practiced in Germany, as well as in Japan.

Sugarcane juice

Sugarcane juice is a type of drink commonly found in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and also in other countries where sugarcane is grown commercially. Evaporated cane juice is used more widely across the globe and is gaining currency as a euphemism for refined white sugar.


Hong Kong

Beginning in the 1970s, street vendors began offering crushed sugarcane juice in Hong Kong. A customer would pay a small fee and the sugarcane would be ground up in a large machine. The juice would be 100% natural. The popularity would eventually lead to bottled sugarcane beverages being sold across supermarkets like PARKnSHOP.


In Zanzibar, street vendors crush the sugar cane with small amounts of fresh ginger and lime. This concoction is more fresh than the commercially available sugarcane juices found in cans.


In Pakistan, people love the sugar cane juice. It is sold fresh by road side vendors only, as the juice starts to turn black very quickly because of oxidation. It is sold in glasses with or without ice. It is advised to hepatitis patients by doctors to drink as much of it as possible.


India grows large quantities of sugar cane and has a regular sugar industry, which is the major consumer of the cane. However, sugar cane juice is enjoyed all over the country. Vendors crush it by the road side and sell the juice. Small pieces of ginger and lemon are also crushed along with the sugar cane to add spice to the juice and feel refreshed. Some people prefer to chew the cane and suck the juice. During festive occasions the sales go up.


Stinky tofu

Stinky tofu is a form of tofu, which, as the name suggests, has a strong odor. It is a popular snack in and Southeast Asia, particularly Taiwan, Indonesia, and China, where it is usually found at night markets or roadside stands, or as a side dish in lunch bars.

It is perhaps interesting to note that the words "stinky tofu" is a direct translation of the Mandarin term ''chou doufu''. However, the Mandarin word ''chou'' does not have the same negative connotation as the English word "stinky". ''Chou'' therefore serves mainly as a factual descriptor and not a judgment on the virtues of the odor. Occasionally ''chou'' is translated as "fragrant", but this too imposes a "pleasant" or "flowery" judgment on the term, which does not accurately represent the food either.


Wide regional and individual variations exist in manufacture and preparation. Most typically, it consists of tofu, which has been in a brine made from fermented vegetables for as long as several months. The brine can also include dried shrimp, amaranth greens, , bamboo shoots, and Chinese herbs.

Stinky tofu can be eaten cold, steamed, stewed, or most commonly, fried. It is often accompanied by sauce. The color varies from the golden fried to the black typical of stinky tofu.

During the ''Disney Channel Games'' of 2008, participants were able to sample foods from multiple cultures. One of these dishes was stinky tofu. Though the host and several participants enjoyed it, many stayed away due to the name. Many questioned why one would give the food such a name.

Speakeasy (Hong Kong)

Speakeasy, also termed private kitchen in Hong Kong , is a term in modern Hong Kong referring to an unlicensed, restaurant-like establishment for eating. Some of the perceived problems with running a restaurant in Hong Kong—high rents and the common practice of landlords extracting profits from restaurants through clauses in s—have led to the establishment of this type of eatery. Owners also have the additional benefit that many government regulations concerning restaurants can be avoided.

A typical speakeasy will be based in an ordinary apartment in a block of flats. Customers gain access by ringing the bell before the door is opened from the inside. Inside, the flat will be set out as a simple restaurant. Usually, it provides not only quality home-made food and drink, but a sense of being at home. Advertising is usually by word of mouth—it's often not possible to have prominent signs outside to advertise the business' presence, as with a normal commercial establishment. Some speakeasies make it compulsory for patrons to phone ahead first to book. The quality of this kind of restaurant is highly dependent on the consistency in both the ingredients and the chef's talents. So, the quality over long periods of time cannot be guaranteed.

Notable speakeasies

*Professional Musicians Club
*Lips French Cuisine

Siu yeh

Siu yeh is the name associated with a late night meal in Hong Kong or other Cantonese-speaking regions. Siu yeh is equivalent to supper in certain parts of the English-speaking world. This meal usually comes around 10 p.m. after dinner. It can range anywhere from a snack to a full-fledged course. The term ''siu'' means "overnight" and ''yi'' means "night." For people working late night shifts, the name is also associated with their post-midnight meals.


Rousong, also called meat floss, pork floss, pork sung or in Thailand moo yong, is a dried meat item that has a light and fluffy texture similar to coarse cotton. ''Rousong'' is used as a topping for many foods such as congee, tofu, and savory soy milk. It is also used as filling for various buns and pastries, and as a snack food on its own. ''Rousong'' is a very popular food item in Chinese culture, and evident in its ubiquitous use in Chinese cuisine.

A very similar product is pork fu , which is less fried and less shredded than ''rousong'', and has a more fibrous texture.


''Rousong'' is made by stewing cheap cuts of pork in a sweetened soy sauce mixture until individual muscle fibres can be easily teased apart with a fork. This usually happens when the collagen and elastin that normally hold the fibres have been cooked out of the meat. The teased-apart meat is then strained and dried in the oven. After a light drying, the meat is mashed and beaten while being dry cooked in a large wok until it is completely dry. Additional flavourings are usually added while the mixture is being dry fried.

5 kg of meat will usually produce about 1 kg of rousong.

Fish can also be made into floss though initial stewing is not required due to the low collagen and elastin content of fish flesh.

Notable ''rousong'' brands

North America

*Soo Singapore Jerky


*Wing Heong
*Kiew Brothers
*Chun Me Food Trading
*Bee Cheng Hiang


*Bee Cheng Hiang
*Fragrance Foodstuff
*Lim Chee Guan
*Tan Chee Yuan
*New Peng Hiang


*Jin Xiang Yuan
*Chuan Xiang
*Hsin Tung Yang


*Bee Tin

Red bean ice

Red bean ice is a drink commonly found in Hong Kong. It is usually served in restaurants like ''cha chaan teng''. The standard ingredients include azuki beans, light rock sugar syrup, and milk. It is often topped with ice cream to become a dessert.


Red bean ice has been around since the 1970s. The later iterations of red bean bubble tea is a derivative. Some places which serve the drink add in chewy flavoured jelly.

Poon choi

Poon Choi, also known as pen cai or Big Bowl Feast, is a traditional type of Chinese food served in wooden basins instead of the porcelain or metal kind.


It was said that Poon Choi was invented during the late Song Dynasty. When Mongol troops invaded Song China, the young Emperor fled to the area around Guangdong and Hong Kong. To serve the Emperor as well as his army, the locals collected all their best food available, cooked it, and put it in wooden washing basins. By doing so Poon Choi was invented.


Poon Choi includes ingredients such as pork, beef, , chicken, duck, abalone, ginseng, shark fin, fish maw, prawn, crab, dried mushroom, fishballs, squid, dried eel, dried shrimp, pigskin, beancurd and .

Poon Choi is special in that it is composed of many layers of different ingredients. It is also eaten layer by layer instead of "stirring everything up", but impatient diners may snatch up the juicy radish at the bottom first using shared chopsticks.

Traditional Village Poon Choi is served in large metal washing bowls with a perforated metal plate at the bottom to keep food from burning, as it is kept warm on a portable stove as it is being served.

Some restaurants or providers change the poon choi and add fresh shrimp and fresh oyster instead of dried ones. This increases the potential risk of contaimination by bacteria that causes disease. It has to be cooked thoroughly.

Cultural aspect

It is often served during religious rituals, festivals, special occasions and wedding banquets in open area of villages. From the 1990s, Poon Choi became popular among urban dwellers and can also be enjoyed at many Cantonese restaurants in the autumn and winter or on special occasions throughout the year.

One bowl with two pieces

One bowl with two pieces , is a slang term that has long been in the vernacular of Hong Kong tea culture. In the past, tea was not offered in a present-day teapot but a bowl in Cantonese restaurants. Dim Sums were not bite-sized. Instead, quite a number of them were simply big buns such that two of them easily filled up one's stomach. The legendary "雞球大包" serves as an excellent example. This saying, however, is now rendered anachronistic under the heavy influence of the "bite-sized trend".

Mister Softee

Mister Softee is a United States-based ice cream truck popular in the Northeast. It was founded by and in 1956 in Philadelphia. It is the largest franchisor of ice cream in the United States. It has about 350 franchisees operating 600 trucks in 15 states. The company is headquartered in Runnemede, New Jersey. It is still run by the Conway family; James Conway, Jr. is now President.

Mister Softee Jingle

The jingle played by Mister Softee trucks is instrumental and created in 1960 by Les Waas , but according to the New York Times, the lyrics are as follows:

: "The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream,
: You get from Mister Softee.
: For a refreshing delight supreme,
: Look for Mister Softee.
: Milkshakes and my sundaes and cones are such a treat,
: Listen for my store on wheels, ding-a-ling down the street.
: The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream,
: You get from Mister Softee.
: For a refreshing delight supreme,
: Look for Mister Softee.
: S-O-F-T Double 'E', Mister Softee."

It is written in E-flat major with 6/8 time. In New York City, the trucks can only play the jingle while moving, to reduce noise .

A copy of the sheet music and all the words can be found on the Mister Softee .

Mister Softee in China

In 2007 Mister Softee established its first ice cream truck and ice cream shop in Mainland China located in Suzhou, Jiangsu. is operated by Alex Conway, grandson of James Conway, and Turner Sparks. In 2008 Mister Softee China plans to begin expanding its core business and franchising throughout China's eastern region.

Mister Softee China has created a menu that combines its classic American products of shakes, floats and sundaes with new Chinese products such as green tea ice cream, red bean ice cream, kiwi sundaes and milk tea floats.

The key to Mister Softee's success in China has been its ability to adapt its product to local tastes while maintaining a strong connection to the strong traditions of the Mister Softee brand. Mister Softee China prides itself on ability and desire to bring the best of high-quality American ice cream to the Chinese people.

While its American counterpart operates almost exclusively with trucks, Mister Softee China has kiosks in downtown shopping areas and trucks throughout China's ever expanding suburban neighborhoods and business districts.

Mister Softee in Hong Kong

Mister Softee is also popular in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, Mister Softee , owned by the Ng Enterprises Ltd., consists of a number of ice cream trucks. The red-white-blue outlook of the trucks, and the '''' played by them, are part of the collective memory of many Hong Kongers.

The first truck, which had been imported from England, began to operate in 1970. Today the company has 14 ice cream vans running on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. The headquarters of the company is located in Fo Tan.

As the Hong Kong Government has stopped the issue of new licenses since 1978, and the existing licenses cannot be transferred to other vehicles, the old trucks are still running on the roads of Hong Kong. Each van, as required by the law, comprises a soft ice cream making machine, a basin, and two refrigerators.

The trucks sell only four products:
*soft ice cream
*Large Cups
*Jumbo Orange , a kind of ).

The red-white-blue vans also began to be seen in Shanghai in 1994, and number to 18 as in August 2005.

Mister Softee in Popular Culture

* A Mister Softee truck driven by Gail was a key device in the Martin Scorsese film ''''.

* Mister Softee is financial slang for Microsoft Corporation.

* Mister Softee was also referenced in Eddie Murphy's stand-up comedy film, ''''. During a skit about ice cream, Murphy recites the famous Mister Softee jingle.

Lap cheung

Lap cheung is a form of pork sausage, and is a common food in Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macau. It consists of ground pork, usually packed in a casing going through compression, drying and exposure to sunlight.

Health concerns

The Hong Kong government, on September 14, 2006, disclosed that a sample made in Macau sold at Kee Wah contains a forbidden colouring, Rhodamine B, which can cause vomiting and suppress the central nervous system.

Jerky (food)

Jerky is meat that has been cut into strips trimmed of fat, marinated in a spicy, salty or sweet liquid, and then dried with low heat or occasionally salted and sun-dried. The result is a salty, stripped, semi-sweet snack that can be stored without refrigeration. Jerky is an early application of food preservation techniques.

History and origins

The word "jerky" comes from the Quechua term ''Charqui'', which means "to burn ".

Drying has always been a common way to preserve meat. By being dried in thin slices in the sun and wind next to a smoky fire, the meat is protected from insects that would otherwise lay eggs in the raw meat. Ancient peoples—for example, the —prepared jerky from the animals they hunted or . Recently, other meats have come to market, such as , ostrich, salmon, alligator, and tuna. The meat must be dried quickly, to limit bacterial growth during the critical period where the meat is not yet dry. To do this, the meat is thinly sliced, or pressed thinly, in the case of ground meat. Drying is performed at low temperatures, to avoid cooking or overdrying the meat and making it brittle.

In present-day factories jerky ovens are made of insulated panels. Inside these large ovens are many heater elements and fans with exhaust ports to remove moisture-laden air. The combination of fast moving air and low heat dries the meat to the desired moisture content within a few hours. The raw marinated jerky strips are placed on racks of nylon screens which have been sprayed with a light vegetable oil to allow the meat to be removed easily. The screen trays are placed closely in layers on rolling carts which are then put in the drying oven.

Some other form of preservative in addition to the drying process is often used in the preparation of jerky. was the traditional method, as it preserved, flavored, and dried the meat simultaneously. Salting is the most common method used today, as it both provides seasoning to improve the flavor as well as preserve the meat. While some methods involve applying the seasonings with a marinade, this can increase the drying time by adding moisture to the meat.

Some jerky products are made naturally or organically. Natural and jerky makers use meat from animals which are raised on organic feed and minimally processed. These animals are not treated with hormone enhancement and are not fed animal by-products. Additionally, these jerky products do not contain , preservatives, artificial flavors, or erythorbate and are gluten free.


After the jerky is dried to the proper moisture content to prevent spoilage, it is cooled, then packaged in re-sealable plastic bags, either by nitrogen gas flushed or vacuumed packed. In order to prevent spoilage, the sealed packages often contain small pouches of oxygen absorber. These small packets are filled with iron particles which work to retain oxygen and excess moisture that may be present, or from air introduced after the seal is broken .

Most of the fat must be trimmed off prior to drying the meat, as fat does not dry, thus creating the potential for spoilage as the fat becomes rancid. .

Because of the necessary low fat and moisture content, jerky is high in protein. A 30 g portion of lean meat, for example, contains about 7 g of protein. By removing 15 g of water from the meat, the protein ratio is doubled to nearly 15 g of protein per 30 g portion. In some low moisture varieties, a 30 g serving will contain 21 grams of protein, and only one gram of fat. This leads to the high price of such brands of jerky, as it takes 90 g of 99% lean meat to generate that 30 gram serving.

There are many products in the marketplace which are sold as jerky which consist of highly processed, chopped and formed meat, rather than traditional sliced, whole-muscle meat. These artificial products, with their far higher fat and water content, often include chemical preservatives to prevent spoilage.

A typical 30 g portion of jerky contains 10-15 g of protein, 1 g of fat, and 0-3 g of carbohydrates.
Since traditional jerky recipes use a basic salt cure, sodium can be a concern for some people. A 30 g serving of jerky could contain more than 600 mg of sodium, which would be about 30% of the recommended .


Unpackaged fresh jerky made from sliced, whole-muscle meat has been available in in Hong Kong at least since the 1970s. The products are purchasable by kilograms, and customers choose from 10 to 20 types of meat used to make the product. Some are sold in strands instead of slices. Macau has opened up numerous specialty shops also, many of which are franchise extensions of stores from Hong Kong. Compared to the sealed packaged versions, unpackaged jerky has a relatively short expiration date.

This type of jerky has also become very popular in convenience stores in the USA. This product is called "slab" jerky and is usually marketed in plexiglass containers.


Traditional jerky, made from sliced, whole-muscle meat, is readily available in the United States and Canada in varying meats, brands and qualities, both as packaged and unpackaged. These products are available in nearly every convenience store, gas station, supermarket, and variety shop in those countries.

A similar product is made from processed meat, is often labeled as jerky. This product is also widely available, and generally much cheaper, in general interest stores such as supermarkets and convenience stores.

Also popular is shredded jerky sold in containers resembling snuff or . Jerky made in the traditional style is also a ubiquitous staple of farmers' markets in rural areas all over North America.

In addition to being quite common in the United States and Canada, jerky is also gaining popularity in supermarkets, convenience stores and online retailers. In Australia and New Zealand, jerky products are available and becoming more common. They are carried by some major supermarkets, and now also smaller stores.

A similar product, biltong, is common in South African cuisine; however, it differs very much in production process and taste.

Since 1996, jerky has been selected by astronauts several times for space flight due to its light weight and high level of nutrition.