Citizens, the Porcine gourmet renowned as TFD!, is a huge fan of bacon in all its many forms. Few can surpass, however, the glory that is Chinese bacon, known as Lap Yuk! 🙂
Historically, Lap means “ritual” in old Chinese and it was very often that surplus meat after an ancestor ritual would be cured for use in times of scarcity.
These preserved delicacies are called “Lap-mei” in Cantonese and are often mistaken that they are waxed because of their waxy appearance and the word “lap” which also means wax in that dialect. There are three types of “Lap-mei”and they are preserved Chinese sausages, preserved pork, and preserved ducks.
In Chinese tradition, they are usually prepared around the time of December of lunar calendar, as one of the delicacies to celebrate the ‘Spring Harvesting Festival’. They are traditional gifts during the festive seasons, especially during the Chinese New Year.
Chinese bacon is pork belly that is cured with soy sauce and other ingredients. It is used more as a flavoring ingredient than eaten in larger portions as are Western bacons, though that’s not an impossibility for some dishes.
Depending on which cut of pork belly you get, it can either be full of fat or pretty lean. The best pork belly is called 五花肉 which literally translates to “five flower meat” meaning it’s got five beautiful layers of meat (2) and fat (3).
This is usually the ‘center cut’ of the pork belly – if it’s too lean, the meat is dry. If too fatty, then it’s too greasy. See if your butcher can save this cut for you. This quality of meat is best represented by Chinese pig breeds such as Taihu, Meishan & Minzhu. Kurobota (Berkshire in English) also makes a great five flower pork belly.
If you don’t have baijiu (白酒), a Chinese hard liquor that’s traditionally used in this recipe, whiskey is a good alternative. Remember to mix the hard liquor with the sauce after it’s completely cooled off.
Make sure all the utensils, containers and your hands are extremely clean as you prepare the pork belly for curing.
The drying condition should be cool, dry and with air flow, temperature should be around 50 – 60 degree Fahrenheit.
This is by no means a difficult recipe, my Citizens – it requires only patience and time to do well! Whilst you can certainly buy this in any Asian supermarket, it is always far superior when made at home! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Chinese Bacon – 臘肉