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Chinese Jerky and A Food Gal Giveaway

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.

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!”

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