What is Chinese Bacon (Lap Yuk)?
Chinese Bacon or Lap Yuk (臘肉) is a Chinese cured pork belly. It's a common household ingredient in the Chinese kitchen and often eaten in the winter. Lap Yuk is made by marinating strips of pork belly, then hung to cure for several days. Once cured, its texture becomes firm but not hard, almost like a soft jerky. And the flavors become concentrated into the pork belly and develop a lovely complexity.
Chinese bacon provides a burst of flavor in each bite and goes so well with Chinese leek recipes like this one. The meaty portion is firm and flavorful while the fatty parts are rich and chewy. It's such a unique contrast in textures yet complement each other so well. Chinese cured pork belly can be purchased at your local Asian grocery store in a vacuum sealed bag. Since it does not need refrigeration, it can be found online as well.
How to Make Chinese Bacon and Leek Stir Fry
This is my favorite Chinese leek recipe. The first part of this Chinese Bacon Stir Fry recipe is to steam the Lap Yuk for about 20 minutes. This removes a bit of the saltiness, but more importantly, it softens the bacon. If you skip this step, you'll end up with Lap Yuk that is tough like jerky. We don’t want that.
The good news is that this is the hard part. After steaming, slice the bacon into bite sized pieces. Slice the leeks into similar sizes. Give it a quick fry with some garlic and a splash of rice wine. The bacon on its own has a lot of flavor; we don't need to add much to it. Less is more in this case. The natural sweetness of the leeks cuts the richness and balances the intense flavors of the Lap Yuk. A simple seasoning of rice wine and garlic makes for a very easy, yet very flavorful dish.
- 1 lb Chinese bacon (lap yuk)
- 1 leek, sliced on a bias
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- Place the bacon in a steamer and steam for 20 minutes. Cut it in half to fit into your steamer if necessary.
- Once the bacon is tender, remove from the steamer and slice it thinly crosswise.
- Heat up your wok or skillet over medium-high heat. When it gets smoky, add a bit of oil just to coat the bottom.
- Add the bacon and stir fry for 10-20 seconds, just enough to lightly brown it. Remove the bacon and set aside.
- There should be some bacon grease. If you need more oil, add a bit more then add the garlic.
- When the garlic begins to change color, add the leeks and rice wine. Stir fry until the leeks become tender.
- Add the bacon. Stir well for another 10 seconds, then serve.