PORK ON YOUR PLATE FROM SNACKS TO SAUSAGES
Larou 腊肉 (Cured Pork Belly)
Pig belly—known as wuhuarou (五花肉, “five-marble meat”) for its streaky patterns of fat—dry-cured with salt. Jiangxi-style larou uses 50 grams of salt per 12 kilograms of meat, and the salt must be warmed on a pan before spreading on the meat. The meat is then sealed in a container for one week to remove moisture before being air-dried.
Sausage 香肠 and Lachang 腊肠 (Cured Sausage)
Cantonese style—dense, fattier, and chewier than German or English sausage—represents typical Chinese sausage. Lactic acid produced during fermentation gives it a distinct sweet taste. Within China, Sichuan is also a well-known type of cured sausage; its stuffing includes pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, rice wine, and sugar.
Ham Sausage 火腿肠
This product has very little to do with ham, and a lot to do with starch and gelatin. Sold in almost every supermarket, individually wrapped, as a popular snack—however, major brands such as Jinluo and Shuanghui have all suffered food safety scandals in the last two years.
Smoked Meat 烟熏腊肉 (“Cured Smoked Larou”)
A New Year tradition in the Sichuan-chongqing area (though Hunan also has its own variation) states that, once a pig is slaughtered in the final month of the year, the family must have meat in the house for a whole month after. The meat is soaked in brine, air-dried for half a month, then hung over the stove to catch the smoke.
Sauce-pickled Meat 酱肉
Pork pickled in a mixture of sweet fermented-flour sauce (甜面酱), rice wine, salt, sugar, and peppercorn. Beijing, Tianjin, Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Sichuan all have their own branded variations, and use different parts—belly, hind leg, even cuts of the leg with cartilage.
Rousong 肉松 (Shredded Meat, Meat Floss)
Pork or beef that is dried then shredded. It is often then steamed with rice or added to congee or bread, or in jianbing or other snacks.