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Curing Lop Yuk (Chinese Bacon)

Charcuterie Chinese

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40 replies to this topic

#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 06:26 PM

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Over in the Charcuterie topic, I've been fiddling with curing my own lop yuk, which I did in earnest earlier this spring. But I've been lead to understand that fall is truly lop yuk season, and the pork bellies are starting to appear in my local Chinese grocery. It's time to get some more hanging!

I've done a few batches and wrote up this recipe in Recipe Gullet, but I think that it's a recipe that's worth more work and tweaking. I also think it's a very rewarding item for folks getting started with curing meat. Finally, if you have lop yuk on hand, you can start making Naw Mai Fon, or Chinese sticky rice, to your heart's content. Which, if you're like me, is weekly. Dave the Cook also tells me that thinly sliced lop yuk is a great appetizer.

So: who's game?
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#2 Dejah

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 08:10 PM

Mighty fine looking lap yuk, Chris. :wub: Looks like you had a nice piece of belly to work with: a good balance of lean and fat. I love how the fat becomes transparent when cooked, and gives almost a crispness when you bite into it.

I remember my mom curing her own when we lived in a rural community with no access to commercial lap yuk. Every day she'd hang out the strips of meat on the clothes line on the shaded end, and cover it with netting ( old crinoline :rolleyes:) to keep out flies. The line had to be high enough so that the neighborhood dogs can snatch them.

I don't know what her recipe was other than Chinese wine, soya sauce and some spices. I must ask her this weekend. She'll just say "I used so much of this, a little of that..." Must be ancient Chinese secret. :laugh:

Thinly sliced lap yuk = Chinese prosciutto

I like to eat it with pickled scallions, and enjoy it steamed with rice or in nor mai fan. But, I don't think I like it so much that I'd try to cure some myself. Would love to hear about other's efforts, of course.
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#3 goldie

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 08:18 PM

Ok, Chris, that looks incredible. I almost (almost, mind you, but not quite) hate to ask, but can you buy this in the Asian grocery? I have one in Quincey that is related to Super 88. Which section? I think my kids would totally groove on this. I've been using sausage with sticky rice, which they love, but to their minds- bacon rules.
Goldie

#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 08:22 PM

Thanks Dejah! I'd be interested in the "spices"; I've not added anything but have wondered about tweaking it a bit with szechuan peppercorns.

Ok, Chris, that looks incredible.  I almost (almost, mind you, but not quite) hate to ask, but can you buy this in the Asian grocery?  I have one in Quincey that is related to Super 88.  Which section? 

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Wherever you get your sausage you're almost certain to find the bacon. Look for a cryovac-ed package.
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#5 Abra

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 08:39 PM

Wow, Dejah, where've you been? Nice to see you back.

Chris, I'm on board. In fact, lop yuk has been on my list since you wrote about it last year. I was just, uhm, waiting for Fall...yeah, that's it! But now if you're tweaking, I'll have to procrastinate a little more until you get yours to perfection (although I have to say that last year's looked perfect to me).

#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 11:58 AM

Well, this is going to happen a lot more quickly than I had thought. Our freezer door came ajar yesterday somehow, and an entire freezer of sausage, pork bellies, stock, and other stuff defrosted. In particular, 20 lbs of Niman Ranch pork bellies need to be cured starting this weekend! :wacko:

As far as tweaking goes, I think that one element worth investing some effort to find is good quality shaoxing wine. I have a jug at home that I bought a while ago and it is a less harsh, rounder flavor that I really do think I can detect in the cure. (The good folks at the Chinese market with whom I've shared this lop yuk think the same, I'll add.) I also think that I'll go for thicker strips of pork, closer to 2" than 1".
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#7 Dejah

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 11:03 AM

Wow, Dejah, where've you been?  Nice to see you back.

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Hey Abra..."Thanks for noticing"

Been cooking and eating SEAsian all summer but too lazy to post. :biggrin:
Dejah
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#8 Chris Amirault

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 03:40 PM

I had about four pounds of pork belly, much of it left over from bacon trim:

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I'm wondering how the more fatty strips will cure up. Here's that great shaoxing I've been using:

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I followed the directions very closely and have the strips marinating in the cure in the fridge:

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Tomorrow's looking hot, so I think I'm going to wait for the cold front that's coming through on Tuesday here to hang them . That means they're going to sit in the fridge for two days and not one. More then!
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#9 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 07:41 AM

The lop yuk is hanging in my third floor now after a pretty speedy dry & tie operation this morning. Here's what it looked like when I took it out of the cure and dried it with paper towels:

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I'll be very interested to see how the pieces that are nearly all fat will turn out. Next, I tied a piece of cord about 1/4 of the way down on each one:

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I've modified my set-up on the third floor a bit to allow access and egress on the stairs:

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There's a good cross breeze from windows, and the little fan helps out to keep the air moving. Here's a slightly closer shot of the lop yuk hanging.

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Right now, it's a bit too warm and moist, but the forecast is very good for the next several days:

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The transformation is magical -- and unlike the first time, I'm now not terrified of the result. I'm just hoping the family will keep the door to the third floor closed so that our coonhound doesn't decide it's time for a taste test.
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#10 Abra

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 09:10 AM

Wow, I have a jar that looks almost like that of your shaoxing. I've had it for about, oh, 7-8 years without opening it, only got it because it's cool-looking. The shaoxing I actually use comes in a bottle with a screwtop. Now I'm wondering if I should crack that crock open? It says Shuang Jia Fan on the front label, and has that same red ribbon.

#11 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 11:36 AM

I'd crack it open for sure.
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#12 snowangel

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 07:11 PM

Chris, a lot of the shaoxing I can get easily has salt in it. Does your's?

You mentioned up topic that you were thinking of modifying your recipe. Did you this time?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#13 Chris Amirault

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 04:31 AM

That's a really good question. It's my sense (from talking to our grocers) that higher quality shaoxing has no salt, whereas the more typical shaoxing has it. I think that you might want to cut back on the added salt here as a result, or even eliminate it. After all, there's a good bit of soy in this as well.
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#14 snowangel

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 12:03 PM

Chris, how's it coming? Anything to show us yet?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#15 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 09:28 AM

Update. I took down some of the thinner ones today, day 9:

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I'm going to rehang these thicker, fattier ones:

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They look and smell great, and I'm planning to use some tonight at dinner. The difference between the carnicaria bellies and the Niman Ranch bellies is very noticable. For example, check out that marbling on the right of this cross-section of one piece:

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I'm wondering if anyone's ever smoked lop yuk before. I've got some bacon that needs smoking this weekend. Maybe it's time for an experiment....
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#16 Ben Hong

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 10:43 AM

Chris your lop yook looks like the best that can be found in any Asian market and I am sure that they taste as good as they look.

BUT, it's not the meat that's of interest to me, but your vinyl RECORDS. My esteem for you has escalated by a few notches after seeing those albums. I like my CDs but I LOVE my vinyl.

Edited by Ben Hong, 29 September 2006 - 10:44 AM.


#17 snowangel

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:44 AM

Chris, when you cure your lop yuk, do you remove the belly skin first?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#18 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:56 AM

Nope. You have to cut it off when you prepare it. I usually slice it so that I can render the fat off of it at the start of whatever dish I'm making.
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#19 Abra

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:39 AM

Chris, will you post yor final tweaked recipe? It's cool enough now to hang meat here, and a Niman belly in my freezer wants to make itself useful.

#20 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 11:29 AM

It has been tweaked: click!
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#21 canucklehead

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 11:40 AM

Chris - beautiful lap yuk!

Try a few thin slices tossed into rice as you steam it - the fat will melt into the rice as it cooks. Also - I've seen thin slices used in stir fries. A local Hunan restaurant uses a smoked version of lap yuk and stir fries it with Garlic Chives. I am guessing he stir fries to lap yuk first to crisp it up and render that fat - then the garlic chives are stirred fried in the fat and then everything is tossed together. I've posted about this dish before.

I hope you will post some pictures of how you ended up using your lap yuk.

#22 Abra

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 02:08 PM

Thanks, Chris! Which soys did you use for the light and dark? I normally think of Kikkoman or Golden Mountain as "light" and I use Pearl River Bridge Mushroom or even kecap manis (deppending on the dish) as "dark" but those might not be right for this dish.

Lee, I'll make sure you get some next time we see you, assuming it works out well.

#23 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 02:18 PM

Abra, I use the Pearl River Bridge light and dark soy. I wouldn't use mushroom soy in this recipe; it'd likely cloud up the flavors in a way I wouldn't like.
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#24 canucklehead

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 03:22 PM

...Lee, I'll make sure you get some next time we see you, assuming it works out well.

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We should do a comparison with the locally produced stuff from Dollar Meats in Vancouver. They are well known even in HK for the quality of their cured meats. Chris' stuff looks amazing - and his recipe has described the texture that you should be looking for in the final product perfectly.

Unfortunately for us in Vancouver - it is very hard to find unsalted wine - so I am not sure if I could ever really try to make it here. The liquior control board will not allow the Chinese wine to be sold in a non-government outlet without it being heavily salted so that it cannot be drunk.

#25 helenjp

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 04:30 PM

Question: did you use white sugar or a dark sugar?

Looks good! I used to work in a Chinese grocery that sold home-cured lop yuk and sausages - wish I'd paid more attention!

#26 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 05:23 PM

Unfortunately for us in Vancouver - it is very hard to find unsalted wine - so I am not sure if I could ever really try to make it here.  The liquior control board will not allow the Chinese wine to be sold in a non-government outlet without it being heavily salted so that it cannot be drunk.

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I'd urge you to try it with a good cooking shaoxing. And, honestly, I'd bet that if you asked the shopkeeper, you might find that some of the good stuff behind the counter, so to speak. Ahem.

Question: did you use white sugar or a dark sugar?

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White. Interesting thought about a dark(er) sugar, though....
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#27 Abra

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 05:48 PM

Thanks, Chris! I'll get some more PRB to duplicate your lop yuk.

Lee, we can get the drinking Shaoxing easily, so I'm sure some could find its way to you.

#28 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 05:39 PM

I got another round of lop yuk curing today, and I decided at the store that it would be a good time to test a cure that included some aromatics. As I was trying to figure out what those aromatics might be, I spied this package at the store:

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The ingredients listed "red prickly ash, cinnamon, anise, star anise, lilac, dried ginger, cattail, licorice root, dried orange peel" -- and I'm pretty sure that there were szechuan peppercorns in there, too. I ground them a bit:

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Then I sprinkled them into one of the two bags:

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Reports soon on results.
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#29 jmolinari

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 06:08 PM

Red prickly ash is Szechuan peppercorn

#30 Chris Amirault

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 08:31 AM

Thanks -- I had just looked it up and was ready to make the edit!
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