If it’s winter, that means it’s the season for 腊肉 (làròu), Chinese cured pork belly. Customarily made during 腊月 (làyuè), the 12th and last lunar month, larou and other cured meats—腊味 (làwèi)—are a cultural heritage of southern China that rely on the region’s cool-but-not-freezing winter climate for preserving these staples. Dry-brined, hung outside to wind-cure and then smoked over cypress branches, traditional Sichuan larou is a homemade Lunar New Year specialty rife with memory. 

The history of Chinese cured pork belly dates back over 2,500 years to the Zhou dynasty. Aside from tastily preserving meat sans refrigeration, larou and other “boil and eat” lawei were socially important Spring Festival foods. So make it for Spring Festival or make it anytime of year when you have a stretch of one to two weeks where the temperature outside (or in your garage) stays around 50F at all times—whatever time of year that is where you are.

The payoff from this moderate effort of curing is a long-lasting stash of smoky, savory goodness at the ready. It’s all you need for take a simple vegetable stir-fry over the top, or it can be the leading player in a dish with Sichuan sauces. Or just treat it as the delicacy it is, and simply, slice, steam and serve. See Part 2 below for six recipes using your larou.

Sichuan Wind-Cured Pork Belly (Larou, 腊肉), Part 1

A Spring Festival Staple Some of us (namely me, but maybe you) have been planning on making Sichuan-style cured pork belly every winter for years but have been slightly daunted by the process. Even if you haven’t always had this wind-cured pork belly in your sights you will now, after reading this recipe and realizing it’s not as hard as it…

Sichuan Wind-Cured Pork Belly (Larou, 腊肉), Part 2: Smoking + Cooking

The Definitive Guide to Smoking and Cooking Larou This is a continuation of Sichuan Wind-Cured Pork Belly (Larou, 腊肉), Part 1. The previous post covers selecting, brining and air-drying this traditional cured meat and Spring Festival staple. Part 2 covers how to cook and eat your larou no matter whether you smoke, boil, steam or stir-fry!  Earlier this month I delivered…

All Deep Dive: Making Sichuan Wind-Cured Meats