Looks great, melicob -- and welcome to eGullet! I am in day four of my fresh bacon curing: good liquid, not yet firm. Feeling good about it.
This thread has gotten me to thinking about making lop yuk or Chinese bacon. Here's a thread devoted to the subject,
and here's a recipe for Naw Mai Fon by Russell Wong.
If you have never had real lop yuk, I can attest to the transformative effects of this ingredient, particularly when it's home-cured. The photo above depicts lop yuk that was made by the mother of the owners of my favorite Chinese foodstuffs store, but she doesn't make it that often. I've not been able to find out how she makes it with any precision, and the instructions I've seen are less detailed than I would like (being the rather anxious curer that I happen to be). Ratios, man, I need ratios.
As a starting point, I'm taking Ben Hong's useful thoughts on the matter from the above thread:
Cut pork belly into 1 inch wide strips. Marinate in a "heavy" marinade of salt, dark soy, rum or other spirits, black pepper, sugar, and for safety's sake, a bit of saltpetre. String each piece and hang in an airy, cool dry, place until it attains the right feel. Store in a fridge.
I'm posting it here because I think that I might be able, with your help, to adapt some of the techniques from Charcuterie
using these ingredients to make it myself, since it's basically a fresh bacon. I've also PMed Ben in case he can remember a bit more about the technique and proportions. Here are some of my questions: How can I measure the salinity (is that a word? the saltiness, I mean) of the soy and salt? Can I, or is this hit-and-miss-and-try-again cooking?
Ben lists rum; I have procured a very nice bottle of shaoxing wine, which I'm assuming is a good substitute. But in Charcuterie
there are no spirits. What role does the hooch play?
Ben lists saltpetre. I'm assuming I can substitute pink salt in the appropriate ratio from the book for whatever weight of meat I have.
My purveyor's grandmother only cures when the weather is cool and dry, and she does it outdoors to take advantage of the wind -- which sounds just like Ben's "airy, cool dry, place." What temperature does "cool" mean? In the book, it sounds like I don't want to get above 75F, which won't be a problem indoors or out here. So should I be hanging this outside? In the cool basement with a fan? Both and compare?
I would really appreciate any input. I'm hoping to get this going in the next few days and document it here.
In closing, I'll add that I wish there were some recipes for Asian sausages (especially lop cheung) and cured meats in the book, Michael. Any reason why there aren't?