PORK ON YOUR PLATE FROM SNACKS TO SAUSAGES

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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.

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