Walking around the backstreets of Shanghai is quite interesting, currently every family is getting ready for the Chinese Near Year and cured meat is everywhere.
Cured bacon, or “larou”, is a southern China specialty. The “la” technique calls for curing the meat in a liquid of salt, soy sauces, sugar, wine and spices, and then air-drying. Occasionally the meat is smoked after being dried. The meat used for “la” curing can be pork belly, duck, fish or sometimes venison. Traditionally the “la” technique calls for the meat to be brought out into the sun for drying a few hours each day. This method promotes dehydration and also partially renders the fat from the meat. The heat from the sun also gives a fragrant nutty taste to the finish product. For my attempt I decided to sun dry the bacon strips in my very sunny window during the day, and store them hanging in the refrigerator overnight.
The story of “larou”, takes us back to Zhou Dynasty (about 3,000 years ago) the twelfth month of the Chinese calendar has been designated as a time for ritual sacrifice to honor the gods and ancestors. This ritual is known as “laji”. Animals were hunted for offerings, and the meat consumed during the ceremony. Over time preservation techniques were developed to conserve the leftovers for winter consumption.
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