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

Author: Kathy Yuan | The Mala Market


  • Gloves
  • Shallow basin (deep roasting pans work) or wide mixing bowls
  • Butcher's string (kitchen twine) and/or meat hooks
  • Pole/rod or drying rack to hang meat


  • 11 pounds center-cut pork belly, skin on excess fat trimmed
  • 100 grams high-proof baijiu (>60% ABV, minimum 55%) or vodka approx. ½ cup
  • 150 grams fine-grain salt approx. ½ cup
  • 3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorn
  • ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 5 star anise



  • Slice pork belly into strips approximately 2½ inches wide. No need to rinse the meat, but if you do, pat completely dry before slicing.
  • Using the tip of a pointed knife, make a clean incision into the square end and out the skin side of each strip (see photo). You’ll thread this opening with string to hang each piece later.
  • Working in batches inside the shallow basin, rub baijiu onto every inch of exposed meat. Gloves are recommended.


  • Preheat a dry pan or wok over low-medium heat. Toast the salt and spices, stirring constantly, until you can smell the spices' fragrance and the salt turns yellow. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Rub the salt brine into the meat, coating each strip thoroughly, including the ends.
  • Move loosely covered basin outside and leave the meat to brine for five to seven days, flipping the pieces daily. If weather doesn't permit, you can do this step in the refrigerator.


  • Tie an 8-inch loop of string through the incisions made previously and slip the loops directly onto a hanging pole, or use meat hooks. Hang to dry for one to two weeks in a shaded, well-ventilated spot. On clear days, move meat into the sun for three to four hours daily. Transfer meat indoors—to a garage or refrigerator—at nights and on rainy days. 
  • The larou is done curing when the rind is dried stiff and the strip still has some flexibility/give when pressed. Refer to post for detailed drying tips and notes.


Outside temperatures must be below 59F (ideally between 50-55F) or the meat can spoil. Temperature, humidity and size of strip all affect curing time, which can range from one to three weeks total.