Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lop Yuk

Austrian version of "lop yuk".

Lately I've written a lot about speck, seeing as our first batch just got finished.

Bill Burge, a St. Louis food blogger, got to taste our speck. As he tweeted:
Just ate that @woolypigs bacon--uncooked as suggested. Pretty damn good. Reminded of me of @cookingkids lop yuk a little w/ better pork

As an aside, I ate off 2 other slabs of bacon I have to gauge fat texture--1 red wattle, 1 duroc cross. There's definitely a difference...
Yes, our speck is very good, and yes Mangalitsa fat is very different from other pig fat. At least, that's what the chemical analysis says.

I'd never heard of "lop yuk", so I did some research. It sounds like the Chinese expression for speck or "cured pork" - particularly belly. I'd not heard of lop yuk (Chinese bacon) - but here's some info about it.

I'm fascinated by Chinese charcuterie. They have us beat by a few thousand years on pig breeds and products like ham, fermented sausages (e.g. salami) and bacon.

If you look at FAO's map of pig population density, you can see there's a belt that stretches from China to Europe. In that zone, you can find products like bacon, lop yuk, ham, salami, etc. Although the processes will be the same (kill the germs, dry out the pork to reduce water activity and stop further germ growth), the spices used to season the cured pork, and whether or not there's smoke on the product, will vary from place to place.

For example, the photo at top shows Bachenspeck, a typical Austrian product. It isn't made with soy sauce and other typical Chinese ingredients, but it has a lot in common with lop yuk: they are both cured and dried pork products. Someone looking for lop yuk would recognize Bachenspeck as a similar yet different product. Conceivably one could do for the other in a pinch.

This explains why the market for high quality cured pork products is a global one - e.g. this is why "mangalica szalami" is now marketed in Asia.

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