Chinese Jerky and A Food Gal Giveaway

Sticky, sweet-salty jerky that's not so hard on your teeth.

If you’ve only had jerky that’s tough as leather, Little Red Dot Kitchen’s version will surprise.

Rather than thin strips of meat that have been dried, this Chinese-style jerky known as “bak kwa” is made from meat that’s ground, formed into neat slabs that are marinated overnight, then smoked over charcoal until caramelized.

The result is jerky that’s so easy on the molars, you could almost make a sandwich out of it. In fact, my husband likened the texture to that of a McDonald’s McRib pork patty sandwich. And company co-founder Ching Lee considers it almost candied meat.

It is made to order in a commercial kitchen by Lee and fellow avowed jerky lovers who are — what else — high-tech engineers by day.

Indeed, unlike other jerky that seems to sit on convenience store shelves for eons, you’re advised to refrigerate this jerky if not eating it right away.

The jerky — shaped into thin, uniform, rectangular sheets — is slightly wet and sticky to the touch when you open the vacuum-sealed bag. The best way to enjoy the jerky is to warm each piece over a flame, so it gets even more pliable. If you don’t have a gas range, just microwave or toast in the oven for a few seconds.

Choose from three varieties: Turkey, Pork, and Pork Lite (which has less sodium and tastes less sweet). I’m partial to the Pork, with its sweet-salty flavor that reminds me of the Asian jerky my relatives used to make.

A one-ounce serving has 70 to 90 calories, and 140mg to 160mg sodium — depending upon the variety. A 1/2-pound bag is $12.45.

The packaging.

Contest: I’m happy to be able to give away a sample pack (with one of each of the three flavors) of Little Red Dot Kitchen’s jerky to three Food Gal readers.

Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Aug. 20. Winner will be announced Aug. 22.

How to win the jerky?

Tell me about a time you encountered a real jerk. Yes, I’m letting you vent. Just keep the language in check, please. Best three answers win the jerky samples.

Here’s my own answer to that question:

“Of course, this happened during the dot-com boom, when it seemed like all civility went out the window during this decidedly ‘me-me-me’ era. I remember slowing down on a two-lane road as I approached a school crossing area marked with 25mph signs. There was a car in front of me that also slowed. But of course, a young guy in a car behind the two of us just didn’t have the patience to do that. Oh no, he was far too important.  He had places to go. He didn’t have time for this. So he floored his gas pedal to whip around both of our cars to get in front and speed away. Yes, in a school zone. During school hours. Unbelievable.”

Winner of the Previous Contest: In last week’s Food Gal contest, I asked you to tell me your most memorable time that involved fire. Three folks will each win a copy of the new cookbook, “Fire It Up” (Chronicle Books) by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim.

Congrats to:

Eileen, who wrote, “My most memorable experience with fire is, ironically, one where I actually was not physically present. A few years ago, my husband took our young children on a cross-country camping trip. Bless his heart. He wisely chose not to tell me, until they all arrived safely home, 6 weeks later, that our youngest nearly fell face first into a brightly burning campfire. Thankfully, our oldest caught his younger brother and averted disaster. Now, whenever I see a campfire, my mind can’t help but wander to what might have been and I shudder, just a little bit, every time. But, we still love campfires and BBQ’ing, so winning ‘Fire It Up’ would be oh-so-cool … and on my birthday too!”

Krystal, who wrote,”When thinking about this question I know exactly the answer! My family and I were up camping in the Sierra Nevada’s at Shaver Lake. Although we always went in mid August we also somehow always managed to get some rain at least one of the days. We had spent the day hiking as the weather was looking fabulous when we first headed out. The second we got to the top of the mountain about 3 hours into the hike and about halfway it simply started to downpour!! Not only did it downpour but it also got really dark and gloomy really quickly…mind you we were at the top and had 3 hours left! We spent the next three hours hiking down or rather I say slipping and sliding down the mountain. It went from rainy to slushy to dry to sunny all changing in the matter of minutes and for the entire three hours.

After three hours of laughing, crying, making jokes on each other and simply wondering when ever this would be over we made it back. Never in my life had I ever loved a campfire so much. We were socked, muddy and freezing and my dad put on a campfire that immediately started blazing! We wrapped up in some beach towels and let the fire dry us until we finally weren’t shivering. I thought about that fire the entire way down the mountain and man did it live up to its expectations. It was the most comforting, warm lovely fire I had ever been around.

I had never been asked this question before when now that I have that is the incident for sure! The day that felt like the longest of all time was ended so nicely with the best creation on earth. A blazing fire to warm the soul.”

Carroll, who wrote, “Fire memories, eh? Oh my! Well, without a doubt by far the ‘most memorable’ for me would have to be the morning, probably 35 years ago now because my beloved first-born son was two at the time, (and ‘How the heck did *those* years pass by so quickly?’ I ask myself.) ((Sigh)) when I turned the oven on to pre-heat for a baking project, and left the room to change his diaper. Mere moments later, the smoke alarm alerted me to a bit of a problem; the entire house was rapidly filling with acrid smoke! Thinking (not necessarily) ever-so clearly, I stashed the boy in his crib, opened his window for ventilation, closed his door, and ran toward the kitchen (I know!) continuing to break every rule in the book (No, I was not crawling on the floor below smoke level!) Crouching, however, I turned off the oven control and reached up to grab the door to open it and take a peek. Aieeee! Slammed door immediately since oven was unaccountably filled with flames. Indulged in brief moment of panic, followed by immediate realization that panic would NOT be productive under the circumstances! Realized flames were still fully-contained. Grabbed nearby fire extinguisher (the only provision and act for which I deserve the slightest amount of praise in this story!) read all the directions, pointed it away from me (another very good move, come to think of it) verrrrry carefully opened oven door, and (what do you know?!) successfully and swiftly doused the flames! (Good for me, oh yes indeed!!!)

Then I went to check on the kid, had a small emotional melt-down while hugging him tightly to me, and then (and ONLY then!) decided maybe I should dial 911.

(Gee, y’think?)

We were standing at the front window, adrenalin gradually receding, and breathing nice fresh air while I was still in the middle of explaining to the nice 911 lady that yes we were absolutely fine, “…but I just wanted to know if…” when the sirens started screaming down our street. Neighbors poured out of adjacent houses. Studly firemen (causing unexpected onset of additional adrenalin, if memory serves) poured out of incoming firetrucks, and the first savior to rush inside the house, like every emergency movie you’ve ever seen on TV, shouted ‘Where’s the fire?!’ Second fireman, a little more leisurely than the first, strolled in behind him and inquired ‘Everything OK in here now?’ But the third fireman! Oh, the third fireman made best use of our taxpayer dollars EVER!! I never even noticed the third fireman until the hullabaloo was pretty much over and I saw him wandering back to the front of the house from down the hall by the bedrooms. He had some small sort of device in his hand and was using it to expel a clearly important chemical into the air every couple of steps. ‘What’s that?’ asked my wide-eyed little boy from the safety of my still-tight-around-him arms. ‘This, young man,’ our stalwart hero proclaimed, ‘is air freshener!’

Now what, you may be wondering, was the cause of all this commotion? Magnetic letters! Remember those ubiquitous plastic letters kids used to play with on the front of the refrigerator? It seems my son had taken a notion the day before to ‘put them away’…inside the oven.

(Oh my!)

Tangentially, the curious among you might wish to know, what I happened to be wearing at that early and usually entirely private hour for all the studly firemen and concerned neighbors and who knows who else to see?

Well *that*, dear internet, is between me and my memory — which is increasingly faulty these days, but which seems to be telling me that whatever it was I threw it in the trash immediately thereafter because, dear goodness, there are just some things you would *not* want to be caught wearing in an emergency, and if it’s not decent enough for firemen and neighbors at 8AM well then it has no business remaining in your closet to matter *how* comfy it might have been. Besides, it kinda had that fire extinguisher stuff all over it. Not to mention my hair.

Next batch of cookies after the oven got back to normal, was delivered directly to the fire station, oh yes it did! And three cheers, I say, for those brave men and women who choose to devote their daily lives to something which for most of us is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Next time you see a fire person, be sure to tell ‘em thanks for all of us!”

More Meaty News: Krave Jerky

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  • I encountered a real jerk when I was at Whole Foods, in the peanut butter/baking aisle looking at some peanut butter jars to purchase (the fun flavors from Peanut Butter & Co. – white chocolate and cinnamon raisin, anyone?). This woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t you know how fattening peanut butter is?” I have her a blank stare and then responded, “Peanut butter has good fats…” She laughed and said “No such thing.” I don’t want to sound like the jerk here, but this woman was overweight… I am NOT overweight, so who is the best judge here on peanut butter?! I said to her, “Fine, don’t eat the peanut butter then. Let me be.” I happily purchased 2 jars of peanut butter that day, and continue to be in great shape.

  • This jerky sounds incredible — the way you described it, almost reminds me a bit of grilled teriyaki meat.

    Glad for the opportunity to vent, lol! Yesterday I was driving and I came to a 4-way stop. I waited patiently for my turn and then when it was (supposed to be) my turn, a girl cut me off (screeching tires, revving engine and all), and almost hit my car. She then flipped me the bird! People can be unreal.

  • I LOVE Chinese Jerky and remember my mom would always get some at the market for me growing up. Ok JERK time!
    So the other day I was at Safeway in the Express Lane. Some little old lady was about 2 customers behind me and clearly seemed like she wasn’t feeling well. She had some type of medicine in her hand and wanted to know if she could purchase her bottle of water before me. Of course, I had no problem with that but some JERK behind me (right in front of the old lady) didn’t think it was “right for her to jump the line”. WTF? Seriously? Anyway, I gladly let her go ahead of me and replied to the JERK that he can wait another minute before purchasing (guess what?) his BEER!

  • I grew up with beef jerky from Chinatown that’s always moisten with a sweet sauce and easy to chew. Then I dried westernized beef jerky and couldn’t understand why anyone would eat something that had the texture of leather! LOL. I haven’t been to Chinatown shopping for beef jerky for a long time, so thanks for this post and the reminder! 😉

  • Wooooo, thanks for the cookbook, Carolyn! It will be great fun exploring all the other recipes, but even if I never make anything from it other than the triple coffee beef from your original post, I have a feeling my life will still be complete 🙂

    I would also like to suggest that an informal “Honorable Mention” award go to your reader whose first kiss was around a campfire — now *that*’s memorable! 🙂

  • Oh my, I love this stuff! Thanks for sharing, what a treat I cannot wait to sample.

    A real jerk!

    I used to have a horrible commute to Hayward from San Francisco, and I had this one intersection where it bottlenecked and some folks always tried to push in front to get just one car length ahead, never mind that they cut you off. One such person did that to me, and I confess I was more frustrated than usual that day and gave him a rather rude gesture in return. As a result, he “stalked” for a while as we made our way to the bridge, leering at me, etc. I had my revenge when as he continued to leer at me, he rear ended the SUV in front of him. Who’s grinning now buddy! I am not sure, I may be the jerk in this story, but its a reminder as to why I take public transportation whenever I can

  • Speaking of jerky and meat, here’s my story of a jerk! (:

    So I tent to this kbbq place called Hwangso and their service was horrible (when is it not?), but they also got a new young guy worker.
    They seriously pushed our patience today. One of the things he did when we asked for more pork belly strips is come back with only ONE strip on that plate. Alright we get it, sorry for eating a lot at an all you can eat place. We get that you want us out, even though we’re bringing you guys business. We spent the money, so we’ll get the most out of it.
    My friends and I only left a $1 tip, which he should be lucky enough to get. The guy follows us outside and says in Korean “Here take the tip back, don’t even leave tip if you’re going to leave that much. It makes us feel like shxt.” He then turns around and says “Why don’t you guys just not come eat here at all from now on”
    What kind of worker says that to customers? A jerk, that’s who.

  • I’ll take the opportunity to vent, though it’s on behalf of my friend. She had an experience at Wal-Mart that I couldn’t believe! My friend had gone to Wal-Mart to purchase a flatscreen TV that was on sale. It was the only thing that she was buying, so she loaded it in her cart and headed to the checkout. She got into the “20 Items or Less” lane, and then realized that the woman in front of her had an absolutely full cart. Like, overflowing. She wasn’t real happy since it was obvious that this woman and her son were over the limit, but she didn’t say a word. This woman turns around, looks at my friend, glares at her, and then tells her teenage son how “some people are so rude – did you see that woman behind us give us “the look” for being over the limit?” The woman and her son start loudly talking about how people should mind their own business, and my friend was just in shock. She finally said, “Ma’am, I don’t care how much stuff you have in your cart. If it really bugged me, I would’ve moved to a different aisle”. Thinking this would appease the angry mother and son, she turned back to looking at the magazines and candy.

    Well, mom and son continue to make snide comments and give rude looks. Finally, after all of their things were loaded and paid for, the mom turned to my friend and said, “Well, I hope you learned your lesson about shoving your nose where it doesn’t belong!” and walked away. My friend just stared after her, then turned to look at the cashier, who immediately started to apologize. My friend shrugged it off, but as she was paying for her purchases she noticed that the mom and son were loitering around the Wal-Mart exit. She said to the cashier, “Look! That woman and her son look like they’re waiting for me at the exit! Can you believe that?” The cashier offered to call security, but my friend declined. After all, it was the middle of a Saturday and it was broad daylight – what damage could they do?

    She walked to the exit, pushing her cart with one hand and holding the TV steady with the other. She starts to walk past this woman and her son, and the woman walks up beside her, hits her on the back of the head, and runs off with her teenage son, both of them yelling obscenities at my friend. Are you kidding me?! My friend’s hands were occupied, otherwise she would’ve pushed the woman away, but she didn’t want to risk damaging the TV. Security rushed up to help her, but the woman and her son were long gone.

    What kind of a person thinks that this behavior is appropriate? To lie in wait for someone and hit them on the head, all because of a non-existent dirty look? What kind of lesson was this mom teaching to her son? And what are the odds of this sort of thing happening anywhere other than Wal-Mart?

  • this jerky sounds yummy!

    i had a jerk follow me around valley fair mall moo’ing at me. i mean, yeah, i might be over weight but really? moo’ing? i got him to shut up by turning around and saying to his face “if you are trying to insult me you will have to come up with something more original than that”.

  • *sigh*… that would be my stepfather… him and my mother came from out of state to help with my first baby… I almost died of a postpartum hemmorrage. He walked in, looked at me, and said, “Wow, you must feel like killing yourself- you lost all that weight, and NOW look at you”. Classy. 🙁

  • I used to love that sweet Chinese jerky that they sold at Jackson Market on Jackson Street in San Francisco. I remember it was something I really looked forward to whenever our relative would visit us from SF.

    And then Annie introduced me to bak kwa from Malaysia, which is superior because instead of a tough single sheet of lean meat, it is ground meat with quite a bit of fat in it. So it is tender and juicy. Perfect in a sandwich with a little buttered bread.

    My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    You can’t bring bak kwa back from Malaysia into the US – Customs will confiscate it if they find it in your bags. So I’m glad that Red Dot Kitchen is making it in the Bay Area.

    Anyway, my “jerk” story involves the parking lot at Lion Market at Tully Rd in San Jose, which is quite crowded, especially during the Lunar New Year season. We were waiting for someone to pull out of a space and even signaled our intention to take the space. But when that car pulled out, another car, coming from the opposite direction, swung in! Oh, they were so rude.

    We honked at them, rolled down the window and questioned them but they just nonchalantly got down from their car and walked away. Annie got so mad, she even got out of the car to challenge them. I had to call her back and calm her down. It wasn’t worth it.

    But still, the nerve of some people!

  • The lady who works at my corner 7-11 is a jerk. I don’t want her to be, because everyone else who works there is so nice. Every time I interact with her I try to be a pleasant as possible but she always makes me want to go home and cry. I know that makes me sound like a wimp but I can’t help it…

  • I have two massive jerks for your perusal. I dated a huge jerk once, he actually lied and told me he had brain cancer. This absolute paragon also told his mother that too. The second jerk is a cardiologist who told me that I was “deconditioned” and told me I had gained ten pounds since my last visit. I pointed out that I was unable to walk up my stairs due to heart palpitations but he told me to exercise. Those are the two jerkiest people I have had the misfortune to encounter.

  • What a wonderful giveaway! I love Chinese Style jerky and these look amazing. How nice of you came up with this “contest” that let us vent! LOL…here’s my story….

    I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby and I worked for a bank at that time. Since it was my first baby, my kept it as a “surprise” and not to find out the baby’s gender until he/she’s born. One day, this customer from the bank, a middle age male, walked in to the branch. Pointing to my tummy at a short distance as I was walking by near the counter, and he exclaimed,”Oh, I’m telling you, it’s a boy! I can bet anything with you for that!” (seems like I just met a new ultra-sound technician that doesn’t need a machine for his job!) So, everyone was staring at me and my tummy. And I just don’t like the attentions. I just gave a polite smile and before I can say anything, he continued, loudly, “Looks like you’re going to due anytime, your tummy is HUGE!” (I was thinking, thank you for telling a pregnant woman she is fat!) And he walked closer to me and tried to land his hand on my HUGE tummy, that was it. I react faster than ever. I turned around and just said excuse me and went to the back office. Luckily, my coworkers near by took over and offered this customer some banking services so my escape wasn’t too awkward.

    I guess I wasn’t the only pregnant women that met people/strangers that are so inconsiderate!

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  • I try not to let jerks waste the valuable real estate between my ears. So, I’ll tell you a cute story instead, and it’s true.

    When we decided to move from Texas to California quite a few years back, we realized it would not be possible, due to airline regulations on temperature, to fly with our two cats, bird and dog. We had brought our two cats with us when we moved to Texas from France, but that was a winter a few years prior, and this was different. So, my mom, little brother, and I drove with our car full of anxious pets and ended up spotting signs for buffalo jerky. After two signs, we had to have some. Some may find it odd to see if your cat would want some meat, but little boys’ minds start to wander when sitting in a van for ten hours a day. Now, what was shocking is that the cats were absolutely wild about the stuff and seemed like they would gladly have eaten the whole bag.

    I don’t know if that sounds odd or even cute, as I called it before, but I think about my cats going after it like catnip any time I ear jerky.

  • bak kwa!!!! Ahh I love those! I wanted to bring a pack back home from Singapore but it’s prohibited. Boo hoo.

    Hm. A jerk, huh? I can’t say I met too many…or if I did I forget because I don’t always remember every grudge…but my cousin always used to tell me, “You used to be a pretty baby…what happened?” and that really hurt me. She also liked to say I don’t look Korean and then say how Korean women beauty is superior to all other Asian women…>:-(

  • I was working for a hospital in their radiology department and a doctor (PhD not an MD but not like it matters) came in requesting something so my co-worker called up someone to help him on his behalf and referred to him as “this gentlemen would like so and so.” After she got off the phone, he was like excuse me I’m Dr so and so and seemed outraged at how she referred to him. Since when was calling someone a gentleman a bad thing?

  • Now THIS gives jerky a good name!

  • In my life I have met many jerks in all shapes and sizes, but the biggest by far was one gent with whom I went out to dinner – once. We had gone to one of my favorite places in San Francisco, a little trattoria tucked in one of the charming neighborhoods. After boring me with stories of his so-called successes and enjoying a wonderful meal from the chef, our check arrived. He placed his credit card in the guest check folder, and the server went to ring up the bill. Unfortunately, the card he attempted to use was rejected. Instead of handling it quietly, he started yelling and complaining. Every diner in the place was watching my mortification. There was nothing I could do. I would have paid the bill myself but I didn’t have any money with me that night. Needless to say it was the last time I saw that guy, but he certainly left a lasting impression. I never went on another date without enough money to pay the bill and catch a taxi home!

  • I have never eaten jerky so would love to try some so highly recommended.

    As for a jerk, the day I emigrated to Canada, I travelled by air (from England) with 6 suitcaes and a German Shepherd in a crate. The crate was deposited near the exit area and my husband had obtaine permission to come through and help me. A custom’s officer had been patting and stroking our dog, who would maybe lick you to death, when a little Hittler came storming over and said we were to shut that dangerous dog up in the crate until such time as we had cleared customs. He made a big fuss even though his colleague had been petting the dog for a while. Welcome to Canada.

  • Contest is now closed. Come back Monday to see who won and for the start of a brand new contest.

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