Pork 30: Jiangrou (醬肉)

“Lightly cure the pork with salt then marinade it with tianmian sauce. Alternatively, mix the pork well with autumn sauce. Hang the pork up and let it dry in the wind.”


Homemade jiangrou/larou drying in a window. (Credit: Sharon1987720)

The jiangrou described here is a cured and dried meat product likely similar to what is now commonly known as “larou” (臘肉). In fact, it may have well been made in precisely the same way back then using thick slices of pork belly.

In Southern China, making larou is something typically done on the twelfth month of the Chinese lunar year, also known as layue (臘月). This is also where the “la” (臘) in larou comes from. People sometimes mistakenly write “la” using the similar-looking homophone character for wax (蠟). This in turn has the unfortunate effect of causing larou to be wrongly translated to “waxy pork“, when if anything it should be called “December pork”.

Any ways, here in Canada it’s better to make larou or other cured meats earlier in October or November when the winds are dry and cold, but not yet freezing. Of course you can also buy larou in most Chinese supermarkets. But considering the peace of mind of making it yourself and how absolutely easy it is to do, why would you even consider buying?

So how does one use this cured dried pork? Diced larou stir-fried with corn kernels is very good. Green beans are also great when stir-fried with larou cut into thick core-sample-like “sticks”. You can also steam, slice, and eat the larou plain though it may be a tad salty.


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