This is not your vegan post. There is no veggie option. There are no similar flavors that can be replicated with tofu, seitan, veggies, or fake meat. This is a post purely about the joy of lard and its flavors. Yum.
The joy of some fatty substance mixed with starch is, as I find it, pretty common across borders. Most people I talk to about it says it comes from memories of their youth. I heard of stories of butter mixed with soy sauce and rice given to young Koreans, tortillas slathered with butter for my Chicano friends, and myself enjoying the joys of lard, scallions, and cooked noodles mixed in a bowl. Awesome! It was so delicious, creamy, and wonderful. The thought of it reminds me both of my youth and how the “waste not” pioneers started with the working class and trying to survive with what they had. There is a Chinese dish that roughly translated is called “Idiot Noodles”. Concept being that an idiot can make it, however the noodle dish was created out of the fact that people in areas of China could not afford to throw away every part of the pig. That after all the meat had been eaten, there still needed to be a way to feed the family, so they created a simple meal that was both filling and flavorful.
I’ve been doing some consulting work for a community based organization here in New York City. It’s been a really great experience, and I have been brushing up on my Mandarin… so don’t be surprised when you find a post about 午餐肉 (dang, it took me like 5 minutes to type SPAM in Chinese). In addition to the benefit of becoming a UN interpreter from my limited knowledge of mandarin, I also have been getting to know more about food. Working with a working class community, I’ve been able to build relationships and really value the work and experiences of the members. I’ve also been generously given homemade moonshine and Chinese bacon. Both have brought me much squealing delight, one maybe more than the other.
Now, the bacon is somewhat of a mystery to me. I haven’t really been able to get a sense of its history or any interesting facts, so if folks have any; leave it in the comments. You can get the bacon in most Chinese supermarkets. In the aisles or butcher section there is dried up sticks of pork belly fat that almost look like a mini meat club. They can either be found hanging up or in vacuum packs, both will work for this dish. This dish couldn’t be any simpler and tastes amazing as a side. I have a rice cooker so I used that, but you can also cook it stovetop. I just don’t know how. You can also use this bacon for my brussel sprout with duck prociutto and substitute the duck for the best bacon you will ever taste! And now, my ode to lard, in haiku form:
My Love of Lard
my love knows no bounds
provides rich flavor of joy
you do me no wrong
1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup water, plus some for rinsing
6 ½ inch slices of Chinese Bacon/La Rou/Lap Yuk
½ tbs soy sauce
minced scallion for garnish, optional
rinse rice with water until liquid runs clear
mix all ingredients with water, rice, bacon and soy sauce
cook rice per direction of method (rice cooker or stove top)
serve topped with scallion