Pork Crazy

A drizzle of dark soya sauce on lap mei farn before serving

It’s that time of year again for feasting on traditional food and one of my favourite foods this season must be lap mei farn or rice steamed with waxed meats.  My earliest memory of tasting this fragrant dish is in my grandmother’s kitchen at No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng during Chinese New Year.  Her busy kitchen would be filled with a blend of delicious aromas from her signature braised duck, Chinese cabbage-chicken soup and especially the variety of waxed meat being steamed with rice!

Even as the rice pot lid was slightly lifted open, the fragrance of freshly steamed waxed meats would waft out to further whet my appetite.  The oil and juices from these Chinese air-preserved meats – lap cheong [waxed sausages] and lap arp [waxed duck] – would soak into the rice, turning the whole pot of rice so full of flavour and fragrance.  When the rice was cooked, grandma would remove the waxed meats from the rice and slice them into bite size to serve the meat separately with a drizzle of thick, dark soy sauce.  To describe how delicious her lap mei farn is, grandma used to say that each mouthful would, tah kwon tau or somersault into our stomachs!

Incidentally, this waxed meat delicacy from China does not contain any wax but the meats, marinated in salt and wine, are air-dried or smoked to be preserved without refrigeration.  While I’m familiar with a range of waxed sausages and waxed duck that grandma used to serve at Chinese New Year, I discovered on a recent trip to China that the Chinese eat a wide range of preserved meats and pork products.

These products may not be sold openly in our country but I saw quite the opposite in China and neighbouring Singapore.  To me it was such an unusual sight and I couldn’t resist taking a few shots of these intriguing meat products.  From their facial expressions, I guessed the locals must be amused at my interest in their pork and probably thought that I’m just a crazy tourist!

Giant-size lap cheong or Chinese sausages for sale in a supermarket, Shanghai

I’m used to seeing Chinese sausages in standard six-inch sizes so it was surprising to see giant size [uncooked] sausages stacked up for sale in a Shanghai supermarket!  I guess if you accidentally dropped one giant Chinese sausage on your foot, it could do some serious damage.  Can’t imagine if this whole stack collapsed on someone!

Wall of waxed specialties displayed for sale in Singapore's Chinatown

This festive season I spotted a wall-full of waxed meat products, dramatically displayed for sale in Singapore’s Chinatown
.  I guess this interesting display attracted much interest from both shoppers and visitors, and even a Muslim lady [wearing headscarf] and friend were curious enough to pause for a closer look!
Gigantic Taiwanese sausages at a street market, Taiwan

Unlike the Cantonese lap cheong, Taiwan sausages are usually stuffed with fatty pork and are not air-dried.  It also comes in giant-sizes and can be baked, pan-fried or grilled but they taste distinctly more sweet than savoury. 

Wansan pork knuckles at Zhouzhuang water village near Shanghai

One of the sights that caught my attention on a visit to Zhouzhuang, an ancient water village near Shanghai, was these eye-catching trays of glazed pork knuckles.  Popular Wansan pork knuckles and trotters or pig hooves, [I read the translation!] are sold as snacks.  I must confess that it was difficult not to stare when I spotted a couple seated on a stone bridge, chewing on a pig’s trotter each!  Ugh…how romantic!?

Butcher and his pork products at the French Quarter, Shanghai

I came across this butcher’s shop while strolling around the French Quarter in Shanghai and couldn’t help but stop to admire the variety of vacuum-packed slabs of pork belly and preserved whole legs [Right wall].  Don’t miss the string of hanging giant lap cheong!

Pig snouts are a delicacy for those who enjoy pork scalp snacks!

Already acquainted with pork knuckles and trotters or pig hooves as snacks, I thought nothing should surprise me but I did not anticipate seeing a large pig snout among the pile of pork in a food stall at Singapore’s Chinatown!  I paused to watch, both fascinated and stunned, how customers would pick their choice and have it sliced up to enjoy as a crunchy pork scalp snack, chee thow pei!

Whether in the festive season or on ordinary days, this is clear proof that the Chinese love pork.  They truly know how to enjoy food and there’s even a saying that the Chinese will eat any living creature with four legs and have backs that face the sun.  So while you are feasting on festive banquets this Chinese New Year, don’t be surprised if you discover that the Chinese eat more exotic and interesting ingredients other than mere pork!  Happy Feasting!

Two varieties each of lap cheong and yon cheong, Chinese sausages
No prizes for the right guess!  This is what mum served for lunch today... yum!  Yon cheong is the type of Chinese sausages [darker in colour] that are stuffed with duck liver marinated in wine.  And yes, dark soy sauce is served on the side as a dip or to mix with the steamed fragrant rice.

This post is dedicated to Chris, my blog sifu, who can go pork crazy when he's pork-deprived!



  1. Anonymous2/03/2012

    Satay Pork Die Die Must Try!

    1. Where? Quick! Tell me more so that I can go try it. Thanks.